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Full text of "Sermons preached in China"

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/2. 

SERMONS 

PREACHED IN CHINA, 

BY THE 

REV. WALTER M. LOWRIE. 



NEW Y K K : 

CARTER & BROTHERS, 

2 8 5 BROADWAY. 



ROBERT 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, 
BY WALTER LOWRIE, 
In the Clerk's Office for the Southern District of New York. 



STEREOTYPED BY TEOMAS B. SMITH, PRINTED BY E. O. JENKINS, 

216 WILLIAM STREET. - NASSAU STREET, 



PREFACE. 



The following sermons were all prepared and preached in 
China, at Macao, Ningpo and Shanghai; as will appear by the 
times and places noted on each respectively. 

For more than two years after they were received from China, 
there was no thought of giving any of them to the public. His 
father's family indeed perused them with interest, as memorials 
of one very dear to them. During the present year they were 
read by others, and they believed that if they were published, 
they would be acceptable and profitable to the religious commu- 
nity. An esteemed friend who cherishes the memory of the 
departed Missionary, assumed the entire charge of the edition, 
stipulating merely that the proceeds of the sale should be paid 
to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church. 

The circumstances under which the most of these sermons 
were prepared and preached are thus given by himself in a letter 
to a friend, dated Macao, Dec. 27, 1844. 

" Since April, 1843, 1 have preached in English, once a week, 
to a small congregation of English and Americans, some of whom 
are pious. It is the custom of most of the missionaries just to 
take printed sermons and read them off, which is well known 
by the people. I have done so myself several times, but never 
liked the plan, nor felt comfortable in adopting it. As the peo- 
ple who attend are very intelligent, I found it required a good 
deal of care to prepare sermons that would be profitable ; and 
that I could give most instruction in the fewest words, and with 



PEEFACE. 



least labor to myself, by writing out my sermons. I have done 
this commonly, and have now nearly fifty written discourses, 
besides several skeletons. As I lost all my written sermons 
when shipwrecked, the preparation of these has been attended 
with some degree of labor, and takes as much time as I can at 
present afford to give. I felt, indeed, some scruple about giving 
so much time to a work not directly the one for which I came 
here, but felt satisfied about it on considering that I am still 
young, and the labor and study of ^preparing sermons would be 
of essential benefit to me ; and I have found it so. Preaching is 
a very delightful work, and I have only regretted that I could 
not give more time to it." — Memoir, p. 283. 

When he reached Mngpo, his preaching in English was less 
frequent, as the brethren of the Mission conducted the English 
service in rotation. His last sermon preached in Shanghai, it will 
be seen, was but a few weeks before his lamented death, which 
occurred on the 19th of August, 1847. 

The last sermon he preached to the native Chinese in Ning- 
po, just before leaving that city to join the translating commit- 
tee in Shanghai, is also given, in a translation by the Eev. Mr. 
S. Culbertson, as well as the original Chinese, in the colloquial 
dialect of Ningpo, expressed in Eoman letters. 

These sermons were neatly and plainly written, and they are 
published as they come from the pen of the author. Had they 
been revised by himself, they would doubtless have been im- 
proved. But this was not to be. They have been carried 
through the press by his father, and although the task has re- 
newed, and even deepened, many sad recollections, it has not 
been without profit to himself. 



CONTENTS. 



SERMON I. 

Page 



Christ made Sin for Us. 2 Corinthians v. 21 1 

SERMON II. 

Praise. Psalm cxvii , 10 

SERMON III. 

Healing the Ten Lepers. Luke xvii. 12-19 1*7 

SERMON IV. 

Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Luke xxiv. 50, 51 26 

SERMON V. 

Influence of the Spirit. John xvi. 7 34 

SERMON VI. 

Jacob's Prayer. Genesis xxxii. 9-12 43 

SERMON VII. 

Plants of the House of the Lord. Psalm xcii. 13 51 

SERMON VIII. 

Terms of Discipleship. Luke ix. 57-62 58 

SERMON IX. 

Walking with God. Genesis v. 24 66 

SERMON X. 

I am a Stranger in the Earth. Psalm cxix. 19 75 



vi 



CONTEXTS. 



SERMON XI. 

Page 



Coming unto Christ for Rest. Matthew xi. 28-30 ; 86 

SERMON XII. 

Messianic Prophecies in Genesis. Genesis iii. 15, ix. 26, 27, &c 94 

SERMON XIH. 

Emmanuel, God with us. Matthew i. 23 104 

SERMON XIV. 

Sanctification of the Sabbath. Exodus xvi. 22-30 117 

SERMON XV. 

Christ Crucified. 1 Corinthians i. 23, 24 129 

SERMON XVI. 

Human Nature Corrupt and Sinful. John iii. 5 138 

SERMON XVII. 

The Sufferings and Death of Christ. Matthew xvi. 21 147 

SERMON XVIII. 

The Law of God. Matthew v. 18 157 

SERMON XIX. 

Adoption. John i. 12 165 

SERMON XX. 

The Golden Calf at Sinai. Exodus xxxii. 34, 35 173 

SERMON XXI. 

Communion of Moses with God. Exodus xxxiii. 11 182 

SERMON XXII. 

The Blessing of Trusting in Christ. Psalm ii. 12 191 

SERMON XXIII. 

The Publican and the Pharisee. Luke xviii. 9-14 198 



CONTENTS. vii 

SERMON XXIY. 

Page 

Martha and Maey. Luke x. 38-42 .... , 207 

SERMON XXV. 

The Rich Man and Lazarus. Luke xvi. 19-31 , 215 

SERMON XXVI. 

Baptism of Christ. Matthew iii. 13-17 224 

SERMON XXVII. 
The Uncertainty of Riches. 1 Timothy vi. 17-19 232 

SERMON XXVIII. 
Believing Prayer. Matthew xxi. 22 , 241 

SERMON XXIX. 

Salvation by Grace. Ephesians ii. 8 251 

SERMON XXX. 

Saying Faith. Ephesians ii. 8 261 

SERMON XXXI. 

The Orace of God sufficient. 2 Corinthians xii. 9 271 

SERMON XXXLT. 



Connection of Divine Agency with Human Efforts. Philippians ii. 12, 13. . 281 
SERMON XXXIII. 



The Disciples in the Storm. John \l 16-21 289 

SERMON XXXIV. 
Our Present Knowledge imperfect. John xiii. 7 297 

SERMON XXXV. 
Invitation to come unto Christ. John vii. 37 308 

SERMON XXXVI. 
Unwillingness to come unto Christ. John v. 40 , 317 



viii 



CONTENTS. 



SERMON XXXVII. 

Page 

Oue Times in the Hand of God. Psalm xxxi. 15 325 

SERMON XXXVIII. 
Christ as the Searcher of Hearts. John ii. 24, 25 335 

SERMON XXXIX. 
The Propitiation of Christ. John ii. 1, 2 345 

SERMON XL. 

Our Offences. Matthew xviii. 7 355 

SERMON XLI. 

Preaching to the Gentiles. 2 Corinthians ii. 12-17 363 

SERMON XLIL 

Repentance. Acts ii. 38, 39 373 

SERMON XLHI. 

The Grace of Christ. 2 Corinthians viii. 9 .' 384 

SERMON XLIV. 

Departing from God. Luke xv. 18, 19 394 

SERMON XLV. 

Returning to God. Luke xv. 20 , 405 

SERMON XLVI. 

The Lord is our Judge. 1 Corinthians iv. 1-5 416 

SERMON XLVE. 
Servants — Sons — Heirs. Galatians iv. 7 425 

SERMON XLVHI. 
What think ye of Christ ? Matthew xxii. 43 435 

SERMON TO THE CHINESE. 
The Punishment of Hell 448 



SEEMON I 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 

He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the 
righteousness of God in him. — 2 Corinthians v. 21. 

The writings of the Apostle Paul are distinguished by an 
uncommon vigor and animation. His whole soul was in every- 
thing he undertook; and whether we see him in social inter- 
course, or in his epistolatory correspondence, or in his great work 
of preaching the Gospel, his mind was still bent to the one object 
of proclaiming salvation through Christ and Him crucified. 
Hence his writings are distinguished by frequent emphatic sen- 
tences, which breathe out the ardor with which he engaged in 
his work. A remarkable trait in his epistles is the frequency 
with which he comprises an outline of the whole plan of salva- 
tion in a single sentence. They are outlines, it is true, which 
need to be filled up from other parts of his writings, yet are they 
complete outlines. Many examples could easily be given, among 
them are the following. Jesus Christ is, of God, made unto us, wisdom, 
and, righteousness, and sanctification and redemption, 1 Cor. i. 30. 
So also, these, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, 
being made a curse for us, Gral. iii. 13. Ye %oho sometimes were far 
off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ, Eph. ii. 13. It became 
him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bring- 
ing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation 
perfect through sufferings, Heb. ii. 10. Not to multiply examples, 
it is sufficient to add, that the text is an example of the same 
kind. He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we 
might be made the righteousness of God in him. It is further re- 
markable, that all these compendious outlines of the plan of sal- 
vation, present it to our view, each in a different light. It is too 
glorious an object to be fully comprehended, if considered only 
in one aspect. So glorious is it, indeed, that it shall be an eter- 

1 



2 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



nal subject of contemplation to the saints in heaven, and it is no 
wonder that the apostle felt as if he could not dwell upon it too 
long, or present it in too many aspects to his hearers and readers. 
And after all, how little do we know of it ! At present we see, 
but as through a glass, darkly. Hereafter, it may be our happy 
lot to behold with open face, the glory of the Lord, being changed into 
the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord, 
1 Cor. iii. 18. In the words before us there are three things 
worthy of notice. 

1. The character of Jesus Christ. He hiew no sin. 

2. The treatment he received by divine appointment. He 
hath made him to be sin for us. 

3. The object of this treatment. That we might be made the 
righteousness of God in him. 

He knew no sin. The expression is remarkable. There was 
no sin in himself, neither did he approve of it in others, or coun- 
tenance it in any way. His great object in coming to the world 
was to destroy sin, and how then could it be supposed that he 
would have any fellowship with it ? There is a nicety in the idiom 
of the original here, which is not susceptible of a literal transla- 
tion into our language. Not only does the expression used import 
that he never had sinned, and was in no proper sense a sinner — it 
also implies, that he was and is so holy, that the idea of sin cannot 
be conceived of, in connection with him. His name therefore is 
synonymous with holiness itself, and he is purer than gold seven 
times tried in the fire. 

It is hard for us to conceive of a sinless being in human form, 
dwelling upon the earth. We see so much of sin around us, we 
feel it so constantly within us, intruding as it does into our most 
holy services, that we scarce can comprehend how any one par- 
taking of our nature can be free from it. How was it possible 
that Christ should never sin ? In conduct we can with little dif- 
ficulty suppose that his outward deportment was blameless. Nay, 
we can even conceive of one of our race who so carefully guards 
himself, that his tongue never errs — but how shall the heart be 
kept so pure, that no stain shall ever defile it ? How shall that 
mirror be preserved so bright, that the face of God may be seen 
therein, reflected with unclouded clearness? But let us not 
measure Jesus Christ by our own low standard. Partaking as 
he did of our nature, he was yet infinitely superior to us. The 
world tried to allure him, and Satan used all his efforts to tempt 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



8 



him to sin, but in vain. "We have the testimony of his nearest 
friends to this effect. The beloved disciple who leaned upon his 
bosom, declares, In him was no sin, 1 John iii. 5. Peter, who 
once in fear denied him, afterwards yielded up his life for him, 
and before he died, testified, He did no sin, neither was guile found 
in his mouth, 1 Pet. ii. 22. But we are not left to gather this from 
the testimony of his friends alone. He himself, when surrounded 
by bitter enemies, who were seeking to kill him, and who even 
then had the stones in their hands with which they meant to 
stone him, could appeal to them, Which of you convinceth me of sin f 
John viii. 46. How brightly did his perfect innocence shine, 
even by the confession of his enemies, when they crucified him 
as a malefactor ! His accusers were obliged to seek false wit- 
nesses when they sought matter of accusation against him, Matt, 
xxvi. 59. One of his own disciples betrayed him, but even he 
repented himself saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the in- 
nocent blood, Matt, xxvii. 4. The judge who gave sentence 
against him took water and washed his hounds before the multitude, 
saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just 'person, Matt, xxvii. 24. 
The thief crucified along with him said, This man hath done 
nothing amiss, Luke xxiii. 41 ; and the centurion who executed 
him, declared, Certainly tJiis was a righteous man, Luke xxiii. 47. 
God himself, to whom he committed his spirit, accepted of him, 
and testified to his perfect holiness by raising him again from the 
dead, and exalting him to rule over all. 

It was needful that our Saviour should be thus holy. He 
came to destroy sin, and therefore should have no fellowship 
with it. He came to be a sacrifice for sin, but the law required 
that the sacrificial lamb should be without spot or blemish. He 
came to satisfy the offended justice of God, and it was therefore 
necessary that justice should have no claims against himself. He 
came to teach the way of holiness, and to show by his own ex- 
ample what it really is — but how could he do this, if not per- 
fectly holy himself? He shall come to be our final judge, but the 
judge of all must be above every suspicion of evil. He will be 
the object of adoration and praise to the myriads of the heavenly 
host forever and ever : but this he never could be, if not perfect- 
ly holy, for those heavenly beings could not adore an unholy God. 

2. Yet of this Being, thus pure and holy, it is expressly declared, 
he hath been made sin for us. This of course cannot mean, that 
any change was wrought in him, causing him to become unholy 



4 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



— for this is abhorrent to all our ideas of his character, and to all 
the declarations of the Scriptures respecting him. The meaning 
is not that in himself he became sinful, but that in the eyes of 
others, and especially of God the Father, he was made sin for us. 
Without entering into the various controversies regarding the 
meaning of this and kindred passages of Scriptures, it is sufficient 
to remark, that its obvious meaning is two-fold. He was made a 
sin-offering for us, and in order that he might become such a sin- 
offering, he was regarded and treated as a sinner. This last is the 
prominent idea, and as it completely includes the other, alone 
needs to be considered. 

The object of Christ in assuming our nature was to make 
atonement for our sins, and thus rescue us from the condemning 
power of the law. This could be done only by his taking our 
place, and suffering the punishment due to our sins. In other 
words, by his becoming surety for us, and in being regarded and 
treated as if he and not we, had been the object of divine wrath ; — 
and surely it needs but little knowledge of his history to see that he 
was thus regarded and treated, for no human malefactor ever suf- 
fered such accumulated sorrows as met upon the head of Christ. 
The prophet who foresaw his advent so long beforehand, predict- 
ed that he would be a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief 
Is. liii. 8, and his whole history amply confirms the prophecy. 

1. The very first step in his course on earth was one of the deep- 
est humiliation. He had been seated on the highest throne in the 
universe, and the splendors of the Godhead shone around his 
brow. Adoring angels bowed before him, and in the bosom of the 
Father he was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, Pro v. 
viii. 30. But when the appointed time came, he left that throne 
with its adoring hosts. He tore himself away, in a measure, from 
his communion with the Father, and veiling for a while the glo- 
ries of his Divinity, he assumed the form of man, — the lowest, 
for aught we know, of all the rational creatures he had made. 
But this great humiliation cannot be better expressed than in the 
words of the apostle. Being in the form of God, and thinking it no 
robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of no reputation, and 
took upon himself the form of a servant, and teas made in the like- 
ness of man, Phil. ii. 6, 7. And when he came into the world, 
what station did he assume ? Not that of a wealthy and power- 
ful monarch. No troops of courtiers waited on his steps, — no 
human armies moved at his command. A few women ministered 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



5 



to him, — a few fishermen attended him, and the humblest fare 
supplied the demands of nature. No palace received him, for 
oftentimes, though the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had 
nests, the Son of Man had not where to lay his head. And what 
treatment did he receive from those whom he came to save ? In 
the emphatic language of the evangelist, He came unto his own, 
and his own received him not, John i. 11. Although he moved in 
so humble a sphere, he enjoyed but little of the amenities of so- 
cial life, — for we read of but few families that loved to receive 
him, — of but few persons who dared to continue with him, when 
the rulers set their faces against him. He was an object of scorn, 
and contempt, or else of reproach ; of untiring malice, and of 
unceasing persecution to the bod} 7 of the nation among whom he 
moved. Possessing the keenest sensibilities, and the liveliest 
sympathy for everything that is lovely among men, he was tried 
again and again with the unkindness and desertion of friends, — 
with being forsaken by his own disciples in the hour of his ut- 
most need, — and being betrayed by one who had often eaten of 
his bread, and seen his works, and done wonders in his name, 
and that too, for a sum that only equalled the pitiful price of a 
slave ! Desirous to do good to those with whom he associated, his 
kindness was often met by refusals or neglect, so that he could 
do no mighty works among them by reason of their unbelief. 
Possessing, as he did, the utmost conceivable abhorrence of sin, he 
was yet obliged to associate daily and hourly with those whom he 
himself described as being like sepulchres, full of dead men's bones 
and all uncleanness, Matt, xxiii. 27. Possessing as he did, the most 
perfect knowledge of the human heart, he saw that many of those 
with whom he associated, even while they professed kindness and 
respect, were thinking evil of him in their hearts, Matt. ix. 4, such 
knowledge could not but be painful to him, — but how much 
more painful was it, when they openly, and to his face, called 
him a blasphemer and a devil, Matt. ix. 3 ; John viii. 48 ; John 
x. 33. No wonder that in sorrow and in indignation, he ex- 
claimed, Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into 
the vjorld, thou blasphemest! John xviii. 36. What is so hard to 
bear as misrepresentation and slander ? Even when supported by 
conscious innocence, it is a bitter thing to have one's character 
unjustly traduced; but who ever drank so deep of this bitter cup 
as did Jesus Christ ? 

But passing by all the other sufferings of our Saviour, con- 



6 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



sider for a moment those that attended the close of his life. The 
copiousness of that most copious of all languages in which the 
New Testament is written, is exhausted in the effort to portray 
the sorrows of his soul. The sufferings of his body were great, 
when his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to 
the ground, and when so great was his exhaustion, that the presence 
of a heavenly messenger was needed to strengthen him ; but as 
an old writer has well remarked, it was " the sorrows of his soul 
that were the soul of his sorrows." He began to be sorrowful and 
very heavy, and said, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death, 
Matt. xxvi. 37, 38. Nor was this agony a mere temporary cloud 
that passed "over his mind. It lasted all that " dark and doleful 
night" and all the next day, when surrounded by the insulting 
priests and jeering crowd, — and when hurried through the forms of 
a mock trial, to the cross. Upon that torturing tree he gave vent to 
his sorrows in the exclamation, My God, My God, why hast thou 
forsaken me f and as if even this strong exclamation did not ex- 
haust the intensity of his feelings, and human language were 
insufficient to express the sorrows of his soul, he cried again 
with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost, Mark xv. 34, 37. 

Much comment is unnecessary here. What malefactor ever 
suffered, as Christ did ? Who was ever regarded and treated as 
a sinner, worthy of the severest sufferings, if he was not ? And 
be it observed too, that all this did not come upon him without 
the knowledge and consent of the Father. This we might know, 
even if it were not so revealed — but it is expressly so declared. 
Not to mention that Christ himself recognized this, when he 
prayed, Oh / my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, 
the apostle in the text plainly asserts it to be the intention of the 
Father, that these things should come upon him. He hath made 
him to be sin for us, — although it was by wicked hands that Christ 
was crucified and slain, yet it was also by the determinate counsel 
and fore-knowledge of God, Acts ii. 23. 

For what purpose, then, was Christ thus afflicted ? Why did 
God suffer all these evils to meet upon him ? For himself, as an 
innocent and holy being, he could not suffer. Some men may 
account for his sufferings by saying, that God in his sovereignty 
may inflict sufferings even on an innocent being. But this is not 
so. God may deprive an innocent being of the life he gave it, 
but, and I say it with reverence, God himself cannot, and will 
not, inflict one moment's suffering upon an innocent being, and 



CHEIST MADE SIN" FOR US. 



7 



still less upon his own Son, unless that being be so connected 
with guilty creatures, that his sufferings are for their sakes. And 
this was the case with Christ. Not for himself, but for us, was 
he regarded and treated as a sinner. Not for himself, but for us, 
was his soul made an offering for sin, — not for himself, but for us, 
did he humble himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death 
of the Cross. He was made sin for us, thai we might be made the 
righteousness of God in him. This was the great object of the suf- 
ferings of Christ, and to this, in the last place, is your attention 
invited. 

Naturally, we are all sinners. I know that men are slow to 
believe this doctrine, for of all others it is the most unpalatable 
to our self-love. But if there be any confidence to be reposed on 
the universal testimony of experience, — if there be any truth in 
the word of God, then this doctrine is true. We are guilty in the 
sight of God ; we are exposed to his everlasting curse ; we are 
condemned already, and if a way of escape be not found, the 
punishment that divine and eternal justice demands will be 
inflicted on us. In order that we may escape, it is not suffi- 
cient that from henceforth we should live perfectly holy lives, 
even if that were possible, which for us it is not. There is a long 
catalogue of sins marked against us, which must be all wiped 
away ere we can go free. These sinful hearts of ours, too, must 
be thoroughly renewed, and strength be afforded us to persevere 
in the way of holiness, or there can be no hope for us. But how 
shall all this be done ? No efforts of our own could deliver us. 
No created power can perform all that is required. Ask the 
friendless and penniless captive, who lies chained in his deep 
dungeon, to pay his ransom and go free, and will he not say, that 
you mock him, by such a proposal ? So should we say, to those 
who tell us that our own righteousness can save us. No ; this 
work exceeds all the powers of nature, but it does not exceed the 
power of Christ. The object of his deep humiliation, and of all 
his intense and bitter sufferings, was to atone for our sins, and to 
procure a righteousness through which we might come with 
acceptance before God. All this he has done, by his obedience 
unto death; and now the only question that remains is, How 
shall we obtain the benefits thus procured for us ? The answer 
to this is contained in the words of the apostle before us, that we 
might be made the righteousness of God in him. By the words, in 
him, the apostle here refers to that intimate union which exists, 



8 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



and must ever exist, between Christ and all those who partake 
of the benefits of his salvation. It is a union so intimate, that 
Christ and his people are considered as one body, — he the head, 
and they the members, — and the work done by him is regarded 
as if it were done by them, and the sufferings endured by him as 
if endured by them, and the righteousness of which he is the pro- 
curer is considered as belonging to them. This union between 
Christ and every one of his true followers, so vitally important to 
the salvation of the soul, is effected by faith, — that living, saving 
faith, which receives Christ, and rests upon him alone for salva- 
tion, — which renounces all confidence in our own merits or works, 
and pleads only the merits of Christ, and which shows itself to 
be genuinely working by love, and producing those effects upon 
the heart and life which the word of God requires. Would you, 
then, be saved from sin, and be made the righteousness of God ? 
My direction to you, is that which the apostle gave to the jailer 
at Philippi, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ So shall it be accom- 
plished, and ye shall be saved. 

We may learn, from the review of what has been said: 1. The 
exceeding greatness of the love of God, and of Christ, You have 
often heard of the sacrifices that some have made for their friends, 
but who of you ever heard of sacrifices and sufferings endured for 
friends, such as Christ endured for his enemies ? Make the case 
3^our own. Would you consent, even for a few years, to live in 
poverty and reproach for another? to walk in our streets with 
the finger of scorn pointed at you ? to bear the sneers and malice, 
and the insults and persecutions, of those in every way beneath 
you ? Christ has done more, infinitely more than all this, for his 
enemies ! Scarcely for a righteous man will one die. Peradventure 
for a good man, some would even dare to die : hut God commendeth 
his love to us, in that while ive were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 
Eom. v. 7. Surely, herein is love ! 2. We are also taught by it, 
very impressively, the vileness of sin, and its hatefulness to God, 
when, for its extirpation, Christ was willing to be made sin for us. 
Men may count sin a light matter, while they roll it as a sweet 
morsel under their tongues, — but Christ thought not so, when he 
left his high and glorious habitation to make atonement for 
it, — he thought not so, in his bitter agony in the garden, — he 
thought not so, when stretched upon the cross between heaven 
and earth. It ought to produce many serious thoughts in our 
minds, when we consider that it was not for himself, but for us, 



CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US. 



9 



that lie suffered all this. And surely, if there is a spark of ingen- 
uousness left in our minds, it will occasion us bitter mourning 
that we have been the direct means of causing all this suffering 
to fall upon him. Suppose that the imprudence of any one of 
you had caused a beloved friend to lose property and life together, 
with what feelings would you reflect upon your conduct after- 
wards? It was in reference to such a feeling as this, that it was 
predicted by the prophet, They shall look upon him whom they have 
pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only 
son, and they shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness 
for his first-born, Zech. xii. 10. 

Finally. We learn hence the completeness of this salvation, 
and the importance of diligently seeking to secure an interest in 
it. It cannot be supposed that Christ would suffer so much, and 
yet leave his work unfinished. It cannot be supposed that any 
flaw is to be found in that which was devised in the councils of 
eternity, and wrought out in time, with such expense to the Son 
of God. He hath done all things well. And surely, if he has 
thought it worth his while to do all this for us, it is more than 
worth your while, my hearers, to see to it that you lose not the 
benefits of what he has done, and now so freely offers to you. 
Hoiu shall you escape, if you neglect this great salvation? 

Macao, April 30, 1843. 



SERMON II. 



PRAISE. 

Oh praise the Lord, all ye nations ; praise him, all ye people. For his merciful' 
kindness is great towards us ; and the truth of the Lord eudureth forever. 
Praise ye the Lord. — Psalm cxvii. 

This is the shortest psalm, but by no means the least impor- 
tant in the whole book. Its author is not certainly known, nor 
the time of its composition. It is an exhortation to praise Jeho- 
vah, on account of his great goodness, and faithfulness in keeping 
his promises. But it is not merely an exhortation. It includes a 
prophetical address to all the nations of the earth, showing that 
all the human race is to be united into one harmonious body, and 
that not merely the Jews but also the Gentiles should engage in 
the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is 
manifest not only from an examination of the psalm itself, but 
also from the testimony of the apostle Paul, who quotes it in the 
Epistle to the Romans, xv. 11. After affirming that Jesus Christ 
was a minister of the circumcision, that is, of the Jews, to confirm 
the promises made unto the fathers; he adds, that another object 
of his mission to the world, was that the Gentiles might glorify 
God for his mercy, — which he confirms by adducing this among 
other predictions of the Old Testament. 

The first verse contains an exhortation to all nations, to praise 
Jehovah ; and this exhortation, according to the usual parallelism 
of Hebrew poetry, is immediately repeated in slightly different 
words. The following verse gives the reasons why Jehovah is 
thus worthy to be praised, and the psalm concludes with the ex- 
hortation with which it commenced, Praise ye the Lord. This 
address to the nations of the earth comes in the name of the 
united church of the Jews, and the Gentiles. Once there was no 
such union, — for the Jews, proud of their distinction, as the 
chosen people of God, refused all intercourse in religion with 



PRAISE. 



11 



other nations ; and the Gentile hating such exclusiveness, and 
dreading a religion that required such holiness of heart and life, 
refused to associate with the Jew. But the cross of Christ has 
broken down the middle wall of partition, and made both one, 
and the writer of the psalm appears to have forgotten that such a 
distinction existed. The conception of the mercy of God through 
Christ has swallowed up every envious and jealous thought, and 
he is only anxious that all nations should praise that being whose 
attributes are so gloriously manifested towards our race. 

Oh praise the Lord, all ye nations ; praise him, all ye people. 
Praise is the giving to another the honor due for his excellent 
qualities. When applied to God, it is the natural and unfeigned 
exhibition of our esteem for those attributes, which excite our ap- 
probation. It implies a right apprehension of the mighty acts, 
and the excellent greatness of the Lord. It implies that we possess 
some knowledge of the goodness of the Lord, and that his glory 
is above the earth omd the heavens. The command, praise ye the Lord, 
is one that is frequently repeated, and not simply repeated, it is 
also enforced with an array of motives which show it to be a 
command of great importance. In some of the psalms, the sole 
object seems to be to call upon men to magnify the name of the 
Lord ; and we meet but with few examples of devotion in the 
Scriptures in which praise does not form a part. There is a dis- 
tinction to be made between praise and thanksgiving. We praise 
God when we declare his glory, — we offer thanksgiving when we 
recognize his goodness as exercised towards ourselves. The former 
may be offered with acceptance, when the heart is overwhelmed 
with sorrow, for God is oftentimes glorified in the fires, Is. xxiv. 
15, — but it is hard to offer the latter if the mind is not in a cheerful 
frame. Yet it is not possible to offer either aright, if the heart 
be at enmity with God. It is true that God makes even the 
wrath of man to praise him, and to show forth his own glory, 
but this is contrary to, or aside from their intention, and they are 
not therefore accepted. It was no merit in the Assyrian monarch, 
that he executed the commission and the charge against the peo- 
ple of God's wrath, for he meant not so, neither did his heart think 
so, Is. x. 7. It was no worthy action in Balaam, that he declared 
so truly of God, that he was not a man that he should lie, nor the 
son of man that he should repent, Numb, xxiii. 19, — or that he 
predicted so much good to Israel. His heart's design was to curse 
Israel — his wish was that God might repent — and it was only by 



12 



PEAISE. 



constraint that he spake as he did. Jehovah obtained glory to 
himself, by the words of his mouth, but he punished him for the 
thoughts of his heart. None can praise God aright but those who 
truly love him, and the command with which the psalm opens, to 
praise the Lord, requires that we turn to him, with the whole 
heart, in order that we may praise him. 

But why are we thus earnestly called upon to celebrate the 
praises of God ? Why should we, who are surrounded with so 
many pleasing objects, turn aside from them to worship a being 
we have never seen ? We need not turn aside. Everywhere there 
is a place to praise him, and every object around us answers our 
questions. The world we inhabit is one vast temple, erected for 
the glory of God, and every object it contains, bears an inscrip- 
tion that proclaims his excellency. It was the contemplation of 
the attributes of God, as displayed in the beauty and magnificence 
of our earthly home, with its varied ornaments and comforts, — 
and still more, in the wise and bounteous supplies provided for 
the necessities of our immortal souls, that called forth the psalm- 
ist's grateful adoration. But more than this. The child of God 
rejoices in his Father's attributes, not merely because of the in- 
terest he himself has in them, but because of their intrinsic and 
infinite excellence. We admire more, the fulness of a river, than 
the little stream which merely quenches our thirst ; so we adore 
the hand that bountifully supplies the wants of all, and scattering 
showers, even on the desert, has still an abundance left, — more 
than we should the same hand, were we the sole recipients of the 
benefits it conveys. 

The attributes of God here mentioned, as worthy of our 
special gratitude and adoration, are mercy and truth. It is re- 
markable how often these two attributes are conjointly mentioned. 
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep 
his covenant and Ms testimonies, Ps. xxv. 10, and Abraham and 
Jacob, as well as David, and hosts of others, have found reason 
to say, Mercy shall he huilt up forever ; thy faithfulness shalt thou es- 
tablish in the very heavens, Ps. lxxxix. 2. By the mercy of God is 
to be understood his free and undeserved favor towards the hu- 
man race, which is especially manifested in the redemption of our 
race through Christ ; while by his truth, is evidently intended 
his faithfulness in performing all his promises, and in continuing 
to exercise towards his people the mercy which he once began to 
exercise. As Moses said to the Israelites, so may it be said in our 



PKAISE. 13 

days, The Lord thy God is a merciful God; he will not forsake thee, 
neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he 
made unto them, Deut. iv. 31. 

For his merciful kindness is great towards us. The kindness of 
God is that favor which he exercises towards all his creatures, 
and that compassion in supplying their wants which are both so 
conspicuously displayed in his sending his son to redeem us. 
There are various other ways in which his kindness to his crea- 
tures is shown, but none which contain such a high evidence of 
his love as this. It is the crowning proof and includes all the 
rest. It is merciful, for we had not the slightest claim upon him 
for any good thing. Nay, the very word mercy includes the 
idea that the persons towards whom it is exercised are offenders, 
and deserving of punishment, and such is really our case. 

This mercy is not exercised towards us in that contracted 
manner, that our feeble conceptions might have anticipated. It 
is God who bestows it, and the gift is offered with a fulness and 
a freeness worthy of the giver. His merciful kindness is great 
towards us, but not after our ideas of greatness. The ocean is 
great when it reposes in the calm, or rolls in the tempest ; the 
earth is great in the vastness, and swiftness, and precision of its 
annual motion ; and the starry heavens, and the untold systems 
of worlds beyond them, are great, and these all declare his glory ; 
but his merciful kindness is greater far than these, for the fulness 
of the sea is but a drop compared with those wells from which 
the waters of salvation are drawn ; and the magnificence of the 
rolling world and shining stars but dimly twinkles when com- 
pared with the radiance that beams from the cross of Christ. 
Count not this language, mere exaggerated declamation. Lift 
your eyes to that bright world whose inhabitants dwell in the 
immediate presence of God. Behold the multitude which no man 
can number, of all nations, and kindred, and tongues, and people 
standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white 
robes, and with palms in their hands, Eev. vii. 9. "Who are these? 
Whence came they ? By what right do they thus stand before 
the throne ? Well may we ask such questions ! These were 
once men of like passions with ourselves, and compassed about 
with infirmities like our own. How came they to enter heaven 
and possess such a glorious inheritance ? Through no worthi- 
ness of their own, but through the mercy of God in Christ. 
That mercy was great, but who shall declare all its greatness ? 



PRAISE. 



It prompted the Son of God to assume our nature — to be made 
sin for us — to suffer and to die in our stead. Hear their own 
song of praise to him — Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and 
hast redeemed us to God by thine own blood, Kev. v. 9. Surely 
man cannot fathom the depths of God's love, nor worlds exhaust 
the fulness of God's merciful kindness. Great as it is in itself, it 
is if possible still greater when we consider to whom it is exer- 
cised. Not to the angels, greater in might and excelling in 
power, who kept not their first estate — but towards us, worms of 
the dust enslaved by sin, exposed to all the miseries of this life, 
and to the pains of hell forever — towards us who had no deliverer 
and no hope, and who were rapidly hastening on to death — the 
death of the body, and more terrible still, the death of the soul — 
the second death. Yea, His merciful kindness is great towards us. 
No obstacles appalled the Son of God. No difficulties deterred 
him from completing the work he had begun. Strong in the 
might of his divinity, he stood alone against opposing hosts, and 
vanquished Satan and his legions, to bring salvation to us. 

It was no merely temporary impulse that prompted him thus 
to act. It was no merely transient deliverance that he wrought. 
His merciful kindness is great towards us, and his truth endureth 
forever. Mercy prompts him to form his purposes of love, and 
to give us great and precious promises, and his unchanging truth 
and fidelity sustains those purposes, and fulfils those promises. 
There was gloom and sadness in our world when our first parents 
ate the forbidden fruit. 

" Earth trembled from her entrails as again 
In pangs ; and nature gave a second groan. 
Sky lowered and, muttering thunder, some sad drops 
"Wept at completing of the mortal sin 
Original." 

What hope could there be for man after such an offence? 
None, had not mercy filled the throne. But mercy prevailed, 
and in the sentence pronounced upon the serpent was contained 
an intimation that God had not utterly cast off the human race. 
It is most deeply interesting to trace the various steps by which 
mercy advanced in the design of saving men, and how amidst all 
difficulties, and obstacles, the faithfulness of God sustained the 
purposes that mercy first devised. At one time almost the 
whole human race had utterly apostatized from God, and it be- 



PRAISE. 



15 



came necessary for him to sweep them from off the face of the 
earth. But there was one man who still retained his integrity, 
and mercy preserved him alive, when the flood of waters de- 
stroyed the rest of mankind. In his family the church was per- 
petuated ; and when, again, the posterity of JSToah had almost all 
departed from God, one of his descendants was chosen to be the 
depositary of the promise of God. To Abraham were the prom- 
ises made, exceeding great and precious ; for in him, and in his 
seed, were all the families of the earth to be blessed. Trace the 
history of his descendants till the time of Christ, and behold 
how the mercy of God bore with them in their provocations, and 
how his faithfulness to the covenant made with their fathers sus- 
tained them in the wilderness, and fed them in the desert ; how 
it delivered them from the hands of their enemies, and prospered 
them in the works of their hands ; how as a wise father, he chas- 
tised their iniquities, and as a covenant-keeping God he pre- 
served them a peculiar people, until the appointed time for the 
completion of the covenant. The Son of God appeared upon 
earth in due time, and the faithfulness of God still sustained him. 
Had it not been so, we might almost have feared, that great as 
was the love the Saviour bore for men, still when the trying hour 
came, and in his agony in the garden he prayed, Oh, my Father, 
if it he possible, let this cup pass from me, he would have shrunk 
back from the work of redemption. But no ! The truth of the 
Lord endureih forever. He would not make void his promises to 
Abraham, nor suffer his purposes to fail. The final results of all 
his mercy and truth to man, you may see, in the great multitude 
whom No man can number, who stand before the throne, having come 
out of great tribulation, and washed their robes, a nd made them white 
in the blood of the Lamb, Eev. vii. 14. The song they sing is 
known to themselves alone — but surely, if they could now ad- 
dress us, who meet in the courts of God's house below, it would 
be in the words of the psalm we are considering, His merciful 
kindness is great towards us, and the truth of the Lord endureth for- 
ever. Praise ye the Lord. 

I presume there are few in this house, who do not admit the 
propriety of obeying the command contained in this Psalm, or 
who do not hope to experience the mercy and faithfulness of God, 
even in the highest manifestation of which it is capable, and of 
which we have just been speaking. But on what grounds do 
you hope to experience this mercy ? or be benefited by this 



16 



PRAISE. 



faithfulness of God ? For, be it remembered, though the mercy 
of God is offered to all, it is not partaken of by all. Nay, there 
is too much reason to fear, that the great majority of nominal 
Christians never know by experience what it is. Men are in the 
habit of resting on some general belief that God is too merciful to 
condemn them forever. Some vague and indefinite notions of 
his goodness and grace float across their minds, and they do not 
trouble themselves to inquire farther. This is the error on which 
millions of immortal souls are lost forever. God is merciful, yea, 
infinitely merciful, — but he is merciful in his own way, and that 
way is so clearly delineated in his word, that men are utterly in- 
excusable if they do not see it, and walk therein. Common mer- 
cies are bestowed upon all without exception, the evil as well 
as the good, for he maketh his sun to shine, and sendeth rain 
upon the just and the unjust ; but this special mercy is to be 
obtained only by those who are in Christ. For to those out of 
Christ, our God is a consuming fire, Heb. xii. 29. There is none 
other name given under heaven among men, ivhereby we must be saved, 
but the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Acts iv. 12. This is 
the reason why the saints in heaven ascribe so much honor to 
the Saviour, because he redeemed them by his own blood. Mercy 
does not wait for those who know him not ; but to those who have 
fled to him for refuge, as the only hope set before him, there is 
preserved, by the faithfulness of God, an inheritance that never 
ends, and a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 

Macao, May 7, 1843. 



SERMON III. 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of 
Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a certain village, there met him ten men 
that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, 
Jesus, master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said, Go show 
yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass that, as they went, they were 
cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and 
with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him 
thanks : and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, Were there not 
ten cleansed ? But where are the nine ? There are not found, that returned 
to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy 
way: thy faith hath made thee whole. — Luke xvii. 12-19. 

It was always characteristic of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he 
went about doing good. Whenever we hear of him, be it in his 
youth, when sitting in the temple among the doctors of the law, 
or in his manhood, when his public ministry had commenced, he 
was still about his Father's business, and so faithfully, that the zeal 
of God's house even consumed him. The honor and glory of 
God, and the happiness and welfare of perishing men, were the 
great objects before him. "Like a current of vital air, he went 
through the length and breadth of the land, and his course was 
marked by long lines of light and gladness." Where he trod, the 
flowers sprang up beneath his footsteps, — where he looked, the 
dark clouds disappeared, — where he spoke, sorrow fled, and those 
who mourned were comforted. The number of miracles he per- 
formed was truly wonderful. We are not to suppose, that he 
wrought only those mighty acts which are either recorded or 
alluded to in the gospels. The evangelist John expressly assures 
us, There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they 
should be written every one, I suppose that the world itself could not 
contain the boohs that should be written, John xxi. 25. It was not 
the object of the Holy Spirit, in recording those of which we pos- 



18 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



sess accounts, merely to excite an empty wonder and astonish- 
ment, — they were written for our instruction. They were in- 
tended to be deeply pondered, and to be compared with other 
parts of the Scriptures, in order that we may fully comprehend 
them, and mark the evidences of divinity that illuminate every 
act of our blessed Lord. 

The miracle here recorded seems to have been performed in 
the course of our Saviour's last journey to Jerusalem. He had 
previously been spending some time in Galilee, under the juris- 
diction of Herod. Luke xiii. 31, 32. The distance from the bor- 
ders of Gralilee and Samaria to Jerusalem, was about fifty miles, 
in a direct line ; but he seems to have gone in a circuitous direc- 
tion, sometimes visiting parts of Samaria, and at others parts of 
Galilee. Being his last journey, he was anxious to visit as many 
places as possible, and to proclaim in each the near approach of 
the kingdom he was about to establish. As he entered one of 
the villages on his route, he was met by ten of those melancholy 
and disgusting objects, some of whom are yet found as objects of 
curiosity and compassion in the East. They were lepers. Of the 
leprosy of the Scriptures, and in what respects it differed from the 
disease of that name in modern times, it is difficult to obtain a 
perfectly satisfactory account. It 'was a disease deeply rooted in 
the system, and affecting the whole body. At first, it commonly ap- 
peared in the form of a small reddish spot, either in the forehead or 
elsewhere. From this, it gradually spread over the body, accom- 
panied by ulcers and sores. The joints became distorted, — the fin- 
gers sometimes dropped off from corruption, — and the miserable 
being lingered on, sometimes for years, an outcast from all society, 
but that of beings like himself ; a mass of corruption, until the 
system was broken down, and he sank to the leper's grave. The 
body of one affected with this disease was covered with scales, or 
scurf, which were general^ white, — hence the expression, so fre- 
quently occurring, a leper ivhite as snow. It is somewhat uncer- 
tain whether it was infectious or not. In Judea, it was regarded 
as an immediate judgment of God. The leper was unclean, and 
no efforts were employed to heal him. The rules for the treat- 
ment of leprous persons, which are laid down with great minute- 
ness in the Levitical law, required that the leper be shut out from 
all intercourse with society. Even his parents or children, or the 
wife of his own bosom, did not dare to approach him. He was 
unclean, and his touch, like that of a dead body, polluted every- 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



19 



tting he handled. He was obliged to wear mourning, and keep 
aloof from every uninfected person, himself warning them not to 
approach him too nearly. The leper, in ivhom the plague is, his 
clothes shall be rent, a,nd his head bare, and he shall put a covering 
upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days 
wherein the plague shall be in him, he shall be defiled ; he is unclean ; 
he shall dwell alone ; without the camp shall his habitation be, Lev. 
xiii. 45, 46. 

It is difficult to conceive of a more melancholy position than 
that held by the lepers. Afflicted with an evil and an unclean 
disease, and entirely uncertain when, if ever, it should be removed. 
Shut out from all society, and under the ban of the Divine dis- 
pleasure. Hope must have died away in the heart, when the priest 
looked upon them, and pronounced them lepers, — and the com- 
mand to depart and dwell alone, must have filled them with 
despair. 

" Depart, depart, oh child 
Of Israel, from the temple of thy God, 
For he hath smote thee with the chastening rod, 

And to the desert wild, 
From all thou lovest, away thy feet must flee, 
That from thy plague his people may be free." 

Thus it was with these of whom we here read. Belief they 
could find from no human source ; but they had heard of the 
fame of Jesus, and hoping that he might compassionate their 
distress, and be able to relieve them, they put themselves in his 
way. They did not dare to approach near to him, and therefore 
stood afar off, — but they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, 
have mercy on us. It was an appropriate prayer for a leper to 
offer. It was short, but it was heartfelt, and it was effectual, be- 
cause it was addressed to that compassionate High Priest, who 
was easily touched with the feelings of human infirmities, and 
who never turned away a needy suppliant. We are not told the 
feelings that filled his mind when he saw them, but it is not hard 
to conjecture. On a former occasion, a single leper applied to 
him for cleansing, and his heart was moved with compassion 
towards him ; but here was an accumulation of misery, that could 
not fail to awaken all his sympathies. He determined to relieve 
them, but he did it in a way that tried their faith, and showed 
their true characters. Instead of healing them on the spot, as he 
could easily have done, he simply commanded them to go, and 



20 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



show themselves to the priests. This was a tacit promise to heal 
them. According to the Jewish law, the priests alone had a right 
to pronounce men clean from the leprosy, and as that law was 
still in force, Christ, who came to fulfil all righteousness, on all 
occasions obeyed its precepts. His sending them to the priests, 
therefore, was equivalent to saying, By the time you have ar- 
rived at Jerusalem, you shall be healed, and the duly authorized 
ministers of the law shall receive you again, to the privileges 
from which you have been so long debarred. It will be imme- 
diately seen, that this was quite a trial to their faith. The journey 
to Jerusalem, to men in their situation, was a long and fatiguing 
one ; if they should not be healed before their arrival there, it 
would be one of much trouble and inconvenience, for they could 
not associate with any whom they might meet ; and if they should 
not be healed at all (for such a suggestion doubtless occurred to 
them), then their labor would be in vain ; they would be laughed 
at, and sent away with renewed disgrace. To oppose all these 
considerations, they had only the simple words of Christ, Go, 
show yourselves to the priests. But their confidence in him, and 
their desire for healing were so great as to make them disregard 
all such suggestions, and in obedience to his command they went. 
How richly was their faith rewarded! As they went they were 
cleansed. They seem to have gone but a little way, when they 
found the scales fall off from their bodies, and felt the warm 
blood rush healthily through their veins, and the vigor of new 
life beating in all their limbs. Their flesh came again as the flesh 
of a little child, and they were clean ! Who shall describe their 
joy at this sudden and unhoped for change ? The sick man 
rejoices when his fever has left him, and he slowly regains his 
wonted health and vigor, — the exile rejoices when his eyes once 
more rest on the home, and the friends of his youth, — the con- 
demned criminal rejoices when his chains are struck off, and his 
prison doors opened and himself sent forth free, — but the joy of 
the lepers must have been greater than theirs. Here was deliver- 
ance from a loathsome, painful, and incurable disease, — one that 
shut them out from the society of friends, and which was indeed 
the condemning sentence of God himself. No longer exiles, no 
longer outcasts, — the temple of their God was reopened to them, 
and the scenes of their youth invited their return. Life, and 
health, and home, and friends, — these had been strange words to 
them, but they were strange no longer, for the rent garment, and 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



21 



the covering on the lip, and the ashes on the head were removed, 
and the cry unclean, unclean, no longer proceeded from their lips. 

]STo wonder that one of them, when he saw that he was cleansed, 
turned immediately back, for he does not seem to have waited till 
he went to Jerusalem, and with a loud voice glorified God. No 
wonder that he fell down at his feet, giving him thanks. Imagine, 
if you can, the words in which those thanks were expressed. 
Doubtless, language would be poor to picture forth the emotions 
that struggled in his breast, at such a time as that. 

But who, or what was he who thus returned to glorify God? 
One who had never before read this account, would be disposed 
to say, Certainly he was a Jew, early trained to acknowledge the 
true God, and offer to him his thank-offerings and praise. For 
some great sin he had been thus sorely afflicted, but now the 
heavy hand of God is removed, and he has returned to own his 
renewed obligations ! But alas ! for the hardness of the human 
heart. Alas ! for its insensibility to the favors of the giver of 
all good. Of the ten who were cleansed, nine appear to have 
been Jews, and one alone, a Samaritan ; and yet he, of whom the 
least might have been expected, was the only one sensible of his 
duty. The Samaritans were a mongrel race, descended from the 
remnants of the ten tribes who were left in the land, when the 
nation was as a body removed, and the heathen whom the Assy- 
rian king sent to occupy the land. They corrupted the worship 
of God by the addition of numerous idolatrous rites, and in at- 
tempting to serve the Lord, and worship graven images, they became 
objects of greater detestation to the Jews than even the heathen 
themselves. The Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, and 
our Saviour himself, declared that they worshipped they knew not 
what. It was therefore hardly to be expected that a Samaritan 
leper, should show more gratitude and true devotion, than 
those who had been carefully trained in all the laws of the Jewish 
faith. Hence, the expression of our Lord, Were there not ten 
cleansed f he exclaims, but ivhere are the nine ? It was a severe 
censure he cast upon them, when he added, There are not found 
that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. Yet, though 
he came alone, and though he was a stranger and an outcast, he 
was not therefore received with the less favor. He came to that 
good Shepherd, who cares even for the weak and diseased of his 
flock, — who does not refuse any, however despised by those that 
are strong. Our Lord looked upon him with favor, and graciously 



22 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



said, ime, go thy ivay, thy faith hath made thee whole. By his 
faith in Christ in the first instance, he was cured of his leprosy, 
but by his living faith exemplified now in his gratitude, he was 
delivered from that more dangerous disease, the leprosy of sin. 
His soul was made whole, and he was henceforth numbered among 
the chosen people of Christ. We are not told anything farther 
respecting either him or his companions. Doubtless, they all 
proceeded to Jerusalem, in order to be received with due formality, 
to the rights and privileges of Jewish society, — and from what 
we have already seen of this Samaritan, we may well suppose, 
that as he went along, he would publish the matter much, and blaze 
it abroad, as did the first leper whose cleansing is recorded in the 
gospels, Mark i. 45. 

There are many important lessons taught by this miracle, but 
space and time, allow the mention of only the following : — 

1. We are taught here very impressively that all faith is not 
saving faith, — nay, that men may possess much of a certain kind 
of faith, and yet be very far from securing the approbation of 
God. It is perfectly manifest that all these lepers had faith in 
Christ, and even in a high degree. They believed that he was 
both able and willing to heal them, and when commanded by 
him to undertake a long journe} r , they unhesitatingly obeyed, 
though they had 'only his word to depend upon, as the ground 
of their hope for cleansing. Nor can we possibly suppose, that 
when they found themselves so completely cured, no joyful emo- 
tions passed through their minds. It is hard to believe that they 
were so depraved as not to feel at least a transient glow of grat- 
itude to him whose word had healed them. Perhaps they made 
many promises to themselves, and resolved that at some time or 
other they would show their sense of the obligation conferred 
upon them. But we do not hear that they ever sought again the 
face of their benefactor, while we do hear him censuring their in- 
gratitude, Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine ? And 
we hear him highly commending the conduct of the Samaritan, 
who acted so differently from his companions in suffering, and in 
blessing — Arise, thy faith ha th made thee whole. In what respect 
then did his faith differ from theirs ? In this, that it wrought by 
love, and purified the heart. The sense of obligation brought him 
back to the Saviour's feet, and the praises that were uttered from 
his lips, were only the expression of his heart's deep emotions. 
Their faith affected only the understanding, and therefore differed 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



23 



in no respect from that possessed by Simon Magus, who believed 
and was baptized, and yet remained in the gall of bitterness and 
the bonds of iniquity, or that of the devils who believe and tremble. 
This affected his heart, and showed itself in his life; and the 
commendation which the Saviour bestowed on him, and the 
words with which he dismissed him, showed that his faith was 
acceptable to him. 

2. The record of this miracle gives a melancholy picture of 
human nature, and of the insensibility of men to the favors they 
receive from their Creator. We are apt to think that those who 
receive great favors from God must be very grateful, and that those 
highly distinguished by him in outward advantages, will be pro- 
portionately zealous in his service. Certainly this should be so, 
for the natural impulses of the heart demand it. But, alas ! it is 
far otherwise. Great privileges do not show great grace. Often- 
times those most highly favored are least sensible of their obli- 
gations ; while true gratitude and zeal for God are found where 
least expected. In the case of the ten lepers, he alone, from 
whom the least was to be expected, was found to possess the 
right spirit. The conduct of the Jewish lepers, was but in minia- 
ture, that of the Jewish nation. No people on earth were so 
highly favored as they. What nation was there who had God so 
nigh unto them as the Lord their God was, in all things that they 
called upon him for ? and what nation was there that had 
statutes and judgments so righteous as theirs ? What nation 
was there that had received so many tokens of God's favor, or 
had made so many professions of zeal and gratitude and obe- 
dience as they ? Yet, when their own long-expected Messiah 
came among them, how did they receive him ? He came to his 
own, and his own received him not, John i. 11. The publicans and 
sinners believed, but they themselves in scorn exclaimed — Have 
any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed f From the east and the 
west, the Gentiles came and sat down with Abraham in the 
kingdom of heaven, but through their own madness the children 
of the kingdom were cast out. It was a terrible retribution that 
befell the highly-favored cities on the coast of the sea of Galilee. 
Woe unto thee, Ghorazin ! Woe unto thee, Belhsaida ! and thou Ca- 
pernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell ; 
for if the mighty works which had been done in thee, had been done in 
Sodom, it ivould have remained unto this day, Matt. xi. 21, 23. 

But while you wonder at, and condemn the criminal negligence 



24 



HEALING- THE TEN LEPERS. 



and unbelief of the Jews, beware lest you seal your own condem- 
nation. The privileges of the Jews were no greater than those 
that we enjoy ; and there are but too few among ourselves who 
rightly improve the mercies granted to us. Who of you can say, 
I have rendered again unto the Lord according to the benefits re- 
ceived from him ? God hath but poor service from many who 
are most bountifully fed by him. He hath more rent, and better 
paid him from a smoking cottage, than he has from some stately 
palaces ! 

3. This miracle is especially important as showing the power 
and character of Jesus Christ, in pointing out to us the way for 
needy sinners to approach and obtain his grace. It has already 
been mentioned that the Jews considered the leprosy incurable by 
human skill. They never used any means to cleanse those af- 
flicted with it, but committed their case entirely to God, as the 
only being able to relieve them. The curing of the leprosy 
therefore was one of the strongest evidences of a divine mission. 
When Moses was sent to be the leader of the Israelites one of the 
proofs he gave, was the curing of the leprous hand. One of the 
most remarkable instances of the way in which the Israelites re- 
garded this disease is found in the account of JSTaaman the Syrian. 
When his royal master sent him to Ahab, that Elisha might cure 
his disease, the Israelitish king supposed that the Assyrian 
monarch wished, to seek a quarrel with him by requiring him to 
perform an impossibility. He rent his clothes, and said, Am I 
God to kill, and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to re- 
cover a man of his leprosy f 2 Kings v. 7. But when these men 
came to Christ to be cleansed of this incurable disease, he made 
no objection, — with a word he removed their plague, and sent 
them awa} 7 rejoicing. By his own power he relieved their mala- 
dies ; and without reluctance, received the worship that one of 
them offered him in return. He was God, who had power to kill 
and to make alive, and to recover men of their leprosy ; and the 
worship they offered him, he received as justly his due. 

4. The manner in which he received the lepers, and sent them 
away, affords us great encouragement, when we wish to make 
supplications to him. In but too many particulars our case is as 
miserable, and helpless, and hopeless, as that of the lepers them- 
selves. The poison of sin has so pervaded our whole nature, 
that we are by it utterly defiled. It shuts us out from the society 
of all holy beings, and utterly unfits us for communion with God, 



HEALING THE TEN LEPERS. 



25 



or for engaging in his service. The leper did not dare to appear 
in the temple of God, or pollute with his touch the vessels of the 
sanctuary. Sin ruins the soul, and brings destruction upon it, as 
surely as the plague of the leprosy destroyed the body. It is 
also as totally incurable by human efforts as that was, and 
nothing less than divine power can remove it from us. 

" Sin, like a venomous disease, 

Infects our vital blood ; 
The only balm is sovereign grace, 

And the physician, God." 

But pitiable and hopeless as our case is, if we look only to our- 
selves, there is deliverance if we but seek for it. Jesus Christ is 
as able to save us from sin, as he was to cure the leprosy, Matt, 
ix. 6. He alone has such power. Under the ancient Jewish 
law, none but God could cleanse the leper ; none but the priest 
prooounce him clean. Christ as God forgives our sin; as our 
great high priest he both pronounces and makes us holy. This 
he is ever ready to do. If we but come to him as the lepers 
came, feeling our misery, feeling a desire to be relieved, believing 
that he is able to do it, then, though conscious guilt may make 
us stand afar off, yet if we lift up our voices, and cry unto him, 
Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. He will hear our prayers, and 
grant our request. And this is our only hope, but, blessed be 
God, it is one that shall not be disappointed. 

Macao, May 21, 1843. 



SERMON IV. 

RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 

And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed 
thern. And it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and 
carried up into heaven. — Luke xxiv. 50, 51. 

The object of the mission of Jesus Christ to the world was 
the sublimest that ever entered into the mind of any being in the 
universe. He came to overcome Satan and vanquish death. He 
came to rescue a race sunk in misery and enslaved by sin. He 
came to assert the honor of God, — to proclaim the glory of his 
character, — to show the excellency of his nature, and to recover 
his rightful dominion over the world. These were objects worthy 
of the might of him who came to save. If obtained, no tongue 
could declare their greatness ; but as well may be supposed, they 
were not easily accomplished, — for in this world, nothing great is 
ever effected without labor and sacrifice, and in this case especially, 
the way to glory led through, shades and sorrows. The day is 
bright beyond conception, but it was ushered in by a night of 
darkness and of storms. 

Yery sad must have been the feelings of the disciples of 
Christ when they saw him ignominiously crucified, — but still 
more so, when they saw him giving up the ghost, and followed his 
lifeless and mangled body to the tomb. It was a sepulchre hewn 
in the rock, a great stone was rolled to the door, a seal set upon 
it, and a guard placed. That day was the preparation for the 
Sabbath. It was usually a time of solemn joy, — but not so now 
to the little band of Christ's followers. They had, strangely 
enough, misunderstood all that he told them concerning the 
kingdom he was about to establish. They utterly forgot his pre- 
diction that he must be put to death, and its cheering accompani- 
ment, that he should rise again. The great stone and the seal, 



RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 



27 



and the guard and death himself had removed the object of their 
hope from their eyes, and to their unbelief it seemed as though 
God's promise had now failed, and Christ's power been ended. It 
seemed as if Satan's victory were now complete, and hope for a 
while deserted them. We trusted that it had been he which should 
have redeemed Israel, Luke xxiv. 21. But now our enemies say 
in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it. We have swallowed him 
up, Ps. xxxv. 25. It was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew 
on — the emblem of peace and rest, but it brought no rest to them, 
for the disappointment of cherished hopes is a bitter thing, and 
the dearer the hope, the bitterer the disappointment. Hope de- 
ferred even, maketh the heart sick, but hope utterly lost, is like 
the giving up of the ghost. 

The Sabbath passed away with them in silence and sorrow, 
for though hope had apparently left them, they could not forget 
Him. His looks of affection were pictured on their hearts, and 
the music of his words yet lingered in their ears. As the next 
day dawned, several women proceeded to the place where they 
had seen him laid, with spices and ointment to embalm his body. 
Last at the cross, they were also first at the sepulchre. So com- 
pletely had they given up the hope of ever seeing him they loved 
alive again, that their only solicitude was to preserve the dead body 
from decay, and to lavish upon it the attentions they could no 
more give to him. Bat wonderful events had occurred. It was 
the Lord of life who had been laid in that lonely tomb, and death 
had no power to retain him a moment longer than he chose. 
By his own power he burst those bonds, John ii. 19. x. 18. In 
his late conflict he overcame and destroyed him that had the 
power of death, that is, the devil. True, he became obedient, even 
unto death ; but it was of his own accord, that he gave up the 
ghost, and it was but for a little time that he suffered the grave 
to possess his body. When the time appointed in the counsels of 
God, and fixed by his own predictions, had come, he rose trium- 
phant over death and the grave. Vain were all the efforts of his 
enemies to detain him. The stone and the seal, and the guard, 
and death itself were less to him than the cords with which Samson 
was bound, which were but as the flax when it toucheth the fire. 
There had been an earthquake, — an angel from heaven descended, 
to roll the stone away, — and he that was dead arose, not like 
Lazarus in his grave-clothes, again to die, — for he left the garments 
of mortality behind him, and lives for evermore. All this must 



28 



RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 



have happened before the dawn of day ; for Mary Magdalene, 
who seems to have come first to the sepulchre, came while it was 
yet dark, and even then saw the stone taken away. In her fear 
she left the companion with whom she came, and ran to call Peter 
and John. While she was absent, another company of women 
on the same affectionate errand came, and saw a vision of angels, 
who assured them that He whom they sought was not there. 
Why seek ye the living among the dead t He is not here, but is risen, 
Luke xxiv. 5, 6. When they had gone, Mary Magdalene returned 
with Peter and J ohn. The two disciples inspected the sepulchre, 
but saw no angels, and departed, wondering at what had taken 
place, and Mary remained alone, weeping at the sepulchre. It 
was then that Jesus appeared to her. Tears dimmed her eyes, 
and she knew him not, till in his own familiar voice he said unto 
her, Mary. She turned herself and saith unto him, Babboni — Mas- 
ter ! After this he appeared to the other women, and sent them 
also to inform his disciples of his resurrection. But it was hard 
for them to believe this announcement. The news was too good 
to be true ; and like Jacob of old, when told that Joseph was yet 
alive, their hearts died within them, and they could not believe. 
Eeturn from the dead was no common event; the grave is not 
easily satisfied ; death does not readily yield up his prey. Even 
after the Lord had appeared to Simon, and to the two disciples 
going to Emmaus, they could scarcely believe ; and it was not 
till he himself had come among them and upbraided them for their 
hardness of heart and their unbelief, that they were convinced, 
and even after they were convinced, astonishment and fear and joy 
so overpowered them that they were confounded, and scarcely 
knew their own minds. For very joy they believed not, and 
wondered, until from further and frequent intercourse with him, 
they were satisfied that there could be no illusion. lie showed 
himself alive to them after his passion, by many infallible 'proofs, be- 
ing seen of them forty days, Acts i. 3, and at one time, by as many 
as five hundred of the brethren at once, 1 Cor. xv. 6, speaking to 
them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of Grod. Those 
were pleasant interviews they had with him, when again they 
heard his gracious words, and saw his wondrous works. But it 
was not his purpose to remain with them in his human nature on 
earth. It was not necessary, — nay, it was not desirable, for him- 
self had told them, It is expedient for you that I go away : for if I 



RESURRECTION AXD ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 



29 



go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you ; hut if I depart 1 
will send Mm unto i/ou, John xvi. 7. 

The time drew near when he should depart out of this world 
unto the Father ; and having loved his own which were in theicorld, 
he loved them to the end. John xiii. 1. In affectionate converse, he 
led them out by an oft frequented road, as far as to Bethany. 
Could we but haA r e heard that conversation ! But no record of it 
is left to us. His last recorded words were spoken in Jerusalem, 
and included the promise of the speedy coming of the Spirit. 
TVhat further he said as they accompanied him to Bethany, we 
know not ; perhaps it would not be well, for any but those called 
to be apostles, as they were, to know. 

A very common mistake prevails as to the place of Christ's 
ascension ; owing to a misunderstanding of the account in the 
Acts of the Apostles, most persons have supposed that it was from 
the top of the Mount of Olives, and a church has even been 
erected on the spot from which he is supposed to have ascended. 
But this is certainly incorrect. The text expressly asserts, that 
He led his disciples out as far as to Bethany, beyond the Mount of 
Olives, and lifted up his hands and Messed them, and while he blessed 
them he was parted, from them, and carried up into heaven. Oh, 
what a time was that ! they had gathered around him to hear his 
last words, they gazed upon him with solemn awe, for already the 
glories of the upper sanctuary beamed around him, and while 
they beheld he was taken up, — not in haste, nor in fear, but slowly 
and majestically he ascended, and a cloud received him out of 
their sight. When Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind 
by a chariot of fire and horses of fire, Elisha could exclaim, My 
father, My father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof, but 
the disciples of Christ uttered no words, for their emotions were 
too deep for utterance. They were like men already released 
from the earth, and seemed to have already entered the portals of 
the eternal temple. What was the world with all its petty con- 
cerns to them, when they saw their risen Lord ascending, and 
found the inhabitants of the heavenly world standing by them in 
their triumphal apparel ? The whole life of our Saviour on earth 
had been an object of most peculiar interest to the angels. They 
had predicted his coming, and announced his birth, and sung the 
glory of his advent. They had ministered to him in the desert, 
and strengthened him in the garden, and watched over him in 
the grave. They had welcomed him as he returned to life again, 



30 RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 



and two of them stood now by his disciples, to say to them, This 

same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come 
in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Unnumbered 
hosts of them received him as he left the world and proceeded to 
his high throne in the heavens. The chariots of God are twenty 
thousand, even thousands of angels : the Lm~d is among them as in 
Sinai, the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high ; thou hast led 
captivity captive, Ps. lxviii. 17. Truly, we may say with the 
Psalmist, God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a 
trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises to our King, 
sing praises, Ps. xlvii. 5. 

It is not easy to estimate too highly the importance of the 
doctrines of the resurrection and ascension of Christ. It was a 
subject of frequent and express prediction by himself. From that 
time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must 
go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief 
priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day, 
Matt. xvi. 21. It was the proof he gave of his divine mission, 
when asked by the Jews what sign he gave, and by what au- 
thority he acted, he referred them to his resurrection — Destroy 
this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, John ii. 19. So 
well were these predictions known, that after his burial, the Phar- 
isees came together unto Pilate, saying — Sir, ive remember that 
that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise 
again, Matt, xxvii. 63. Had he not risen, therefore, we could 
have regarded him in no other light than as a prophet of lies. 
We must have considered then that all his claims to be the 
Saviour of the world were false, — that he was a deceiver, — and to 
whom then could we have gone ? As the apostle says, If Christ 
be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain — 
ye are yet in your sins, 1 Cor. xv. 14. Of what avail then had it 
been to us, that he assumed our nature, that he dwelt among 
men, that he wrought miracles, that he preached glad tidings, 
that he suffered and died ? If he rose not again we are most 
miserable, and must lie down in sorrow. But blessed be Cod ! 
wonderful as the account is that tells us of his resurrection, it is 
one that cannot be doubted — for no fact in history is so firmly 
established. The day we celebrate as the Lord's day, is alone 
a sufficient proof. Why does the whole Christian church observe 
the first, instead of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath ? 



RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHEIST. 



31 



Because on this day Christ rose from the dead, and it is there- 
fore a day of gladness and joy to our souls. 

The power of God as displayed in the resurrection of Christ 
is especially worthy of our notice. It is no common thing to see 
the grave give up its tenants, and those that sleep in the dust to 
arise. Especially in this case was it little to be expected. The 
God of this world, the devil, of whom it was a terrible charac- 
teristic that he had the poioer of death, Heb. ii. 14, had peculiar 
reasons for wishing to keep the Saviour in the tomb. He well 
knew that the continuance of his power, and the preservation of 
his kingdom among men, depended upon his defeating the pre- 
dictions of Christ, and preventing his resurrection. To this 
point therefore was all the ingenuity and malice of hell directed, 
but all in vain. 

He who had power to lay his life down, had also poicer to take it 
again, John x. 8, and on the third day he showed himself the 
conqueror of death and the grave. Behold here, the working of 
the might of God's poicer, as the apostle expresses it, which he 
ivrought in Christ ivhen he raised him from the dead, and set him at 
his own right hand in heavenly places, Eph. i. 19, 20. 

The effects of the resurrection of Christ are most glorious, 
and to us of the deepest moment. It was the seal of all he did, 
and the completion of our salvation. The work of atonement 
for sin was accomplished when he exclaimed on the cross — It is 
finished, and died for our sins ; but the work of redemption was 
not completed until he rose again for our justification, Eom. iv. 25. 
It was thus that he destroyed death, — it was thus that he led cap- 
tivity captive. He thus became the first fruits of them that slept, 
and his resurrection is the pledge that all his followers shall like- 
wise rise to glory ; as he has overcome death, so all his followers 
shall. The grave may for awhile possess their bodies, but its 
possession shall be but for a little time. On the morning of the 
Sabbath he rose from the tomb, leaving his grave-clothes behind 
him. "When the morning of the Eternal Sabbath shall dawn, 
our bodies shall be raised incorruptible, no more to return to the 
dust ; and we shall be changed. It will not be long till that time 
comes. It was but a few hours that Christ lay in the tomb, it is 
but a short time that we shall lie there, and if we have known 
the fellowship of his sufferings, — if we be now dead to the world, 
and our life be hid with Christ in God, then shall we also appear 
with him in glory. Then shall it be said to us, Thy dead shall 



32 



RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION OF CHRIST. 



live, with my dead body shall they arise. AivaJce and sing ye that 
dwell in dust : for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall 
cast out the dead, Is. xxvi. 19. But it should excite you to watch- 
fulness and diligence, to know that it is not every one who 
shall rejoice at that solemn time. Blessed and holy is he that hath 
part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no powei\ 
but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, Eev. xx. 6. 

The ascension of Christ was a farther step in his exaltation. 
He who had humbled himself so low for our sakes, who had not 
shrunk from the loathsome grave, was now to be exalted far above all 
principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that 
is named not only in this world, but in the ivorld to come, Eph. i. 21. 
It would, doubtless, have been pleasant to have had him remain in 
this world, to our weak faith, and often fainting hope, and flag- 
ging zeal ; it would have been encouraging to have had a visible 
head to resort to. But it was not necessary, while the reasons 
for his going away were such, that it was better he should depart. 
He has gone, that he might send the Comforter. He has gone to 
intercede for his people, for he ever liveth to make intercession for 
them, Heb. vii. 25. He has gone that he might exercise the prov- 
idential government of this world — yes, of all worlds in behalf 
of his blood-bought church. It may cause a smile on the part of 
some to hear so much importance attached by us to the affairs of 
the too commonly despised church of Christ. It may subject us 
to the charge of overweening vanity and self-conceit, when we 
claim for her, the special care, and deepest thoughts of the infinite 
Jehovah ; but this arises from ignorance of her true importance 
in his eyes. When we read such passages as this — He that 
toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye, Zech. ii. 8 ; and this, God 
hath made Christ to be head over all things for the church, Eph. i. 22, 
it will be seen that it is impossible to estimate too highly her 
dignity and value in the eyes of her Maker. She is a crown of 
glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of her 
God, Is. lxii. 3. 

The Saviour has gone to prepare a place for his disciples, and 
he himself has added, If I go and prepare a place for you I loill 
come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may 
be also, John xiv. 2, 3. 

It is for this that we wait. The world may now look down 
upon the church of Christ, and scorn our expectations of future 
glory, as the vain dreams of enthusiasts, or the silly ravings of 



RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION" OF CHRIST. 



33 



fanatics ; but we know in whom we have believed. He ascended 
in the clouds to heaven, and the angels who stood by his apostles 
as they gazed up after him into heaven, assured them that he 
should so come again in like manner as they had seen him go 
into heaven. He shall come as he went, in the clouds, and yet 
not altogether as he went, for but few of the human race wit- 
nessed his departure ; and though crowds of angels attended him, 
but few of them were visible to human eyes. But not so shall he 
come. The Son of man shall come in the clouds of heaven with power 
and great glory, Matt. xxiv. 30. He shall come in the glory of his 
father, with the angels, Matt. xvi. 27. Behold he cometh with clouds : 
and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and all 
the kindreds of the earth shall ivail because of him, Rev. i. 7. 

The solemnity and sublimity of that coming, I shall not at- 
tempt to describe ; but as an ambassador of him, who we believe 
shall come to be our judge, I exhort you to be in readiness for his 
coming. Let your loins be girded about and your lamps burning, 
and ye yourselves, like unto men that wait for their Lord, Luke xii. 
35, 36. God grant that when he comes we may not be forced to 
cry unto the rocks and the mountains to fall on us, and cover us 
from his presence ; but rather may look up, and welcome his 
coming with joy, knowing that our redemption draweth nigh. 



Macao, May 28, 1843. 



3 



SEKMON V. 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 

I tell you the truth : it is expedient for you that I go away ; for if I go not away, the 
Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. — 
John xvi. 1. 

There was a touching scene exhibited in an upper room at 
Jerusalem, when these words were uttered, and the painter's 
imagination and skill has been called into exercise more than 
once to depict it. Let us for a moment exchange places with the 
disciples, and imagine their thoughts and feelings. Thej had 
now been living with the Saviour for three full years, and shared 
his lot in every variety of circumstances. They had followed 
him in all his wanderings, they had been hungry and thirsty with 
him. When wearied, they had sat at his feet, when refreshed, they 
had walked again at his side. They had seen his miracles. -They 
had marked the glow of intelligence and joy diffused over the face 
of the blind, when the light of day first shone upon their hitherto 
darkened sight ; they had observed how the dumb praised him, 
and those who had been deaf listened to his gracious words. 
They had seen the lepers approach him without fear, and the 
lame follow him with unfaltering steps. They had witnessed the 
joy of the desolate widow, as she bent over her only son restored 
to life by him. They had themselves experienced his power. 
He had fed them in the desert, and saved them when the tempest 
had threatened to swallow them up. They had followed him 
through evil and through good report, trusting that he should 
redeem Israel. They had seen him reviled by the wicked, and 
mocked by the scribes and pharisees, till they felt ready to call 
for the fire of heaven to consume their opposers. They had seen 
many turning back, and walking no more with them, while tbey 
themselves, knowing that he had the words of life, still clave to 
him. They had been with him in the holy mountain, and had 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



35 



seen him when his face did shine. They had heard the voice 
which proclaimed from heaven, This is my beloved Son. They had 
but lately accompanied him in his triumphal entry into Jerusa- 
lem ; they had heard the multitude shout Hosannah ! and hoped 
that now should be the end of all sufferings, and the consumma- 
tion of all their hopes. 

But, strangely enough, after all this, they heard him exclaim, 
even in a public assembly, Now is my soul troubled, and what shall 
I say? Father , save me from this hoar, John xii. 27. In private, 
they marked that he became more solemn and sad than before. 
The pale and pensive face of the man of sorrows, is now more 
deeply furrowed by grief. Mysterious influences weigh down his 
spirits, — a strange conflict is evidently going on within his bosom, 
and they are awed to silence by a sympathy which they feel, but 
cannot comprehend. The paschal supper follows, and then that 
scene of unequalled and sublime condescension, when Jesus, know- 
ing that he came from God, and ivent to God, riseth from supper, and 
laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself, and 
poured water into a basin, and iv ashed his disciples' feet, and wiped 
them with the towel wherewith he ivas girded, John xiii. 3-5. After 
this, they heard that startling declaration, One of you shall betray 
me, which seems to have been made at the very time they were 
observing the supper, which he appointed to be a lasting memo- 
rial of his death. He sees the sorrows that fill their hearts, and, 
ever mindful of others' sufferings, even in the midst of his own, 
he consoles them with the words, Let not your hearts be troubled, 
ye believe in God, believe also in me. Again he tells them he must 
depart, and soon they shall see his face no more. With counsels, 
and warnings, and advice, and the sweetest strains of consolation, 
and the kindest words of infinite affection, he occupies the pass- 
ing moments. Though away from them, he would not leave 
them comfortless. He would still be with them, to watch over, 
and to protect, and to keep them. It was the farewell address 
of a love stronger than death, and we may easily conceive how 
his words would thrill through the hearts of the disciples. But 
still they were sorrowful at heart. How could it be good for 
them, that he should leave them, and be seen no more ? His in- 
structive parables, — his wonderful works, — his kindness, and for- 
bearance, and compassion, how could they live without these? 
One and all they declare, they would rather die than leave him, 
though, alas ! they knew not so well as he did, the fickleness and 



36 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



feebleness of their affection for him. With great condescension 
and kindness, he shows that his departure was not a thing to be 
grieved at ; that, on the contrary, it was a necessary part of his 
great plan for saving the world, and that it was indispensable, in 
order to fit them for the parts they had to perform. / tell you the 
truth : it is expedient for you that I go away ; for if I go not away, the 
Comforter luill not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto 
you. It is a remarkable passage, solemnly and affectionately in- 
troduced, and worthy of special notice. Who is this Comforter f 
and what is the work he performs, which makes his coming so 
important and desirable ? 

The Comforter is the Holy Ghost, otherwise called the Spirit 
of truth, and the Spirit of Christ, the third person of the glorious 
Trinity, equal with the Father and the Son. He was known to 
the ancients, for in the record of creation we are told that tJie 
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, Gen. i. 2. His per- 
son and character must have been often a subject of earnest 
inquiry to those who expected the coming of Christ, for he is 
most distinctly spoken of in the Old Testament, in reference to 
that coming. But the full revelation of his character is found 
only in the New Testament, and especially in this last discourse 
of Christ. But everywhere in the New Testament he is spoken 
of in terms of the highest honor. The names and titles of God 
are given to him, and he is described as exercising divine attri- 
butes, acquainted with every secret thought, Eom. viii. 26, 
searching all things, even the deep things of God, 1 Cor. ii. 10. He 
is called the Spirit of Christ, because, in the economy of redemp- 
tion, he belongs to Christ. He was, in a manner, purchased for the 
church by his death. He is sent forth by Jesus Christ, and the great 
object of his mission is to testify of Christ. Obtained by Christ's 
death, he is sent forth by his prayers. When our Saviour ascended 
up on high, and led captivity captive, he also gave gifts to men ; 
and of all his gifts, the first and the greatest was this, the gift of 
the Holy Spirit ; and oh, what a gift was this ! It came down at 
first, with a fulness, and freeness, and profusion, that astonished 
even those who had been expecting it, and confounded those who 
had not. It was on the day of Pentecost. The disciples, in obedi- 
ence to the command of their ascended Lord, still tarried at Jerusa- 
lem, and their prayers rose constantly with one accord for the ful- 
filment of his promise. Suddenly, there came a sound from heaven, 
as of a rushing mighty wind, — cloven tongues of fire appeared, — • 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



'37 



they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with other 
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

The sensation produced in Jerusalem was astonishing, as well 
it might be. The remembrance of the crucifixion of Christ had not 
yet died away, and the hearts of men were not at ease, when they 
thought of his predictions. When this new wonder was noised 
abroad, the multitude speedily gathered together, and ivere confounded 
at what they saw and heard. A few timid Galileans, without in- 
fluence or authority in the state, without wealth or honor among 
men, were now seen boldly advocating the cause of him who 
had been so lately crucified in scorn. Known to all men to be 
unlearned and ignorant men, they were heard speaking strange 
and difficult languages, with a fluency and accuracy that no 
human preceptor ever imparted. Known to be men brought up 
among themselves, and possessing no power that other men did 
not possess, and distinguished by nothing, except that they had 
been loiih Jesus, they were now seen working great and notable 
miracles, which none of their enemies dared to deny. Wonder- 
ful, too, were the effects produced by their preaching. Eloquence 
has been defined as "the art of persuasion,'' but how could these 
fishermen be eloquent, who had never been taught in the schools? 
How should they be able to persuade men to embrace the doc- 
trines of the crucified Jesus, when the chief priests and pharisees, 
the wise and the learned, without exception, opposed him? Yet 
on the very first day of their preaching, three thousand men were 
pricked to the heart by their words, and, asking What shall we 
do 1 were baptized, and added to their number. Nor did the in- 
fluence stop here. Miracle followed upon miracle, conversion 
followed after conversion ; daily were added to them such as should 
be saved. The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and 
of one soul, and no wonder, for one and the self-same Spirit 
wrought in them all. The influence spread abroad. It began in 
Jerusalem, but it stopped not there. Persecution began, and the 
disciples were scattered ; but they went everywhere preaching 
the word, and still, as they preached, men became obedient to the 
faith. The mongrel Samaritans believed, — a stranger from dis- 
tant Ethiopia was baptized, and went rejoicing to his own land, 
where he proclaimed the same truths. The Gentiles were called ; 
Cornelius, and others with him, believed ; and, from that moment, 
the apostles went abroad to all nations. Standing before the 
wealth of Ephesus, and the luxury of Corinth, and the learning 



38 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



of Athens, and the proud power of imperial Rome, they spake of 
Jesus and the resurrection. Everywhere they were scorned, 
everywhere they were opposed, everywhere persecuted, yet in 
every place the invincible power of the Spirit selected and 
brought to them those that should be saved. It was a time of 
overturning among the nations ; but the Spirit of God moved on 
in his conquering course, until the name of Christ was proclaimed 
in the temples of ancient Rome, and the palace of her monarchs 
acknowledged his sway. 

We are sometimes so dazzled by the splendor of the first man- 
ifestation of the Spirit as to be incapable of attending to the less 
brilliant tokens of his presence in our own times. Indeed there 
are those among nominal Christians in our day, of whom it 
may be said, as of the disciples whom Paul found at Ephesus, 
they have not so much as heard whether there be an Holy Ghost, 
Acts xix. 2. But there is an Holy Ghost. There are influences 
of the Spirit now diffused, and now felt, among the churches of 
Christ, and till time shall end those influences shall be diffused, 
and be felt. It was an express promise of our Saviour, that the 
Comforter should abide ivith his people forever, John xiv. 16. It 
is the distinguishing character of the people of Christ, that 
the Spirit of Christ dwells in them, Rom. viii. 9 ; and of the 
church of Christ, that it is a spiritual house offering up spiritual 
sacrifices unto God, 1 Pet. ii. 5. I pray your attention for a 
few minutes longer, while we consider some of the works of the 
Spirit, as wrought in our times, and as they must be wrought in 
our own hearts, if we wish ever to see the face of our God in 
peace. 

One of the names given by the Saviour to the Comforter who 
came to supply the wants of his own bodily presence, is the 
Spirit of truth, John xv. 26. It is an expressive and appropriate 
name, for he comes to enlighten men, of whom it is most truly 
said, that naturally we walk in a vain show, and follow after 
shadows, and falsehoods. Mortifying as the truth is, it is yet in- 
contestable, that we are ignorant of God and his true character, — 
of the real nature of sin, of our own condition, and of the way of 
salvation. We think ourselves wise, and that we know all these 
things, but it is not so, for the natural man receiveth not the things 
of God. We are wise for this world, but not for the next ; and 
therefore these things are foolishness unto us, 1 Cor. ii. 14. We 
may even be acquainted with the letter of the word of God, but 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



39 



its real import is hidden from us, till the Spirit of truth has 
opened our eyes ; for the God of this world hath blinded the eyes of 
them which believe not, lest the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine unto them, 2 Cor. iv. 4. Now the object 
of the Spirit is to remove this blindness, and to lead into all truth. 
Hence he is sent to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of 
a judgment to come, John xvi. 8. The knowledge of sin, of the 
sinfulness of our own hearts, though a deeply painful and most 
humbling knowledge, is yet one of the first importance. No dis- 
ease that affects the whole constitution can ever be removed, un- 
less its real nature be shown, and its sores probed even to the 
bottom. The Spirit of Christ performs this painful process by 
showing the true nature of sin, and its odiousness, as committed 
against so glorious a being as our God. He takes the soul of 
man, and drawing off his thoughts from surrounding objects, sets 
before him in long and terrible array, the sins of his youth, a,nd 
of his more matured years. He leads him to the unerring stand- 
ard of God's word, which requires perfect holiness, and shows 
how every thought has been turned aside. He arms conscience 
with her native power, and bringing the sinner into the presence 
of God's perfect justice, bids him consider faithfully who he is, 
and what he has done, and asks, what retribution awaits conduct 
such as his has been ? The differences in men's natural constitution 
and temperament will greatly modify their feelings at such a time 
as this ; but there is no man who has been wrought upon by the 
Spirit of God, faithfully to ask himself these questions, who does 
not tremble at the view of himself thus obtained, and cry out 
with the Philippian jailer, What must I do to be saved? It is a 
dreadful thing to stand, as men are sometimes brought to stand 
in the full light of the Spirit of truth, as it shines upon their ini- 
quities, and reveals the ineffable justice of God. It is a fearful 
thing thus to fall into the hands of the living God. But how shall 
we escape the sword of his justice ? How shall we flee from the 
wrath to come ? How shall these souls that are dead in sin, be 
made alive to God ? Come from the four tvinds, breath, and 
breathe upon these slain that they may live, Ezek. xxxvii. 9. The 
Spirit of Christ must answer these questions, and it is his work to 
do it. There is a way of escape, and Christ is that way. No man 
cometh to the Father but by him. "Would you find that way and walk 
therein ? Then seek the Spirit's influence, for it is the Spirit who 
testifies of Christ and leads men unto him, John xiv. 26 ; xv. 26; 



40 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



xvi. 14, 15. It is his great object to show the character of Christ, 
and why he suffered ; to set forth, the efficacy of his death, and 
the sufficiency of his salvation. When the serpent-bitten Israelites 
were perishing in the wilderness, Moses erected a brazen serpent 
on a pole, and bade them look and live. The skill of the painter 
has represented that scene, when friends brought their friends, 
and a mother her child, and turned its dying gaze to the wonder- 
working sign. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so 
must the Son of Man be lifted up ; that whosoever believeth on him 
should not perish, but have eternal life, John iii. 14. The Spirit of 
Christ here performs for us the office that no friend, no tender 
mother even, can perform. He brings the crucified one before 
our eyes, and bids us look and live. Do you smile at this, and 
say, How can these things be ? The age of miracles has passed. In 
what way then does this mysterious Spirit perforin his operations ? 
I answer, He works by means ; and though the age of miracles 
be passed, that of supernatural influences has not. A sermon, a 
letter from a pious friend, a remarkable providence of God, an 
open bible. These are some of the means ; and his influences 
accompanying them work upon the heart, sometimes gently and 
sometimes powerfully, but in ways that we cannot explain. 
Have you never felt them ? Has an old truth never darted upon 
. your mind, with, a vividness and force that startled you, as 
though it were a new revelation ? Have you not felt yourselves 
at times impelled to the consideration of serious things ? Have 
you not wished at times that you knew what shall befall you 
when you shall enter the untried realities of the other world, to 
which, we so rapidly hasten ? 

" Hath a voice within 
Ne'er whispered to thy secret soul, 

Urged thee to leave the ways of sin, 
And yield thy heart to God's control ? 

Sinner, it was a heavenly voice, 

It was the Spirit's gracious call, 
It bade thee make the better choice, 

And haste to seek in Christ thine all." 

These influences of the Spirit are to be carefully improved. 
There is a wonderful depth of meaning in the words of our Lord, 
The wind bloweth where it listeth — so is every one that is born of the 
Spirit, John iii. 8. Learn a lesson from the sailor. The winds 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



41 



he encounters are not always favorable, but be knows that with- 
out the wind his voyage will never be made. It is his object, 
therefore, to seek those regions where the most favorable breezes 
blow, and he is anxious to improve the slightest puff of air. Sail 
after sail is lifted to the sky, and spread to the breeze. Every 
change in the force and direction of the wind is carefully noted, 
and the corresponding changes made in the canvass of his vessel, 
day by day, and night by night, with untiring perseverance he 
observeth the winds and regardeth the clouds. And is he not 
wise to do so ? Would you not blame him if he pursued any- 
other course ? Precisely alike is our situation, the same as his 
is our duty. We are sailing over the sea of life ; unknown cur- 
rents are carrying us among unseen dangers, and the Spirit's in- 
fluences are the only breezes that can waft us to our port in 
heaven. Watch then as the sailor watches, and earnestly pray 
for those influences, and you shall obtain them. Where is the 
dead sea, that is never ruffled by the breeze ? Where is the man 
who has never felt the stirrings of the Spirit ? But neglect those 
influences, misimprove those gracious impressions, which every 
man who has heard of Christ has felt, and who can 3^0 a blame if 
the currents sweep you on the shoals, and you make shipwreck 
of your souls forever ? 

I know of no part of the Scriptures which contain such im- 
portant and delightful truths, as those that speak of the Holy 
Spirit, and his efforts to turn men unto God. But there are no 
truths guarded by such awful sanctions as these ; for those same 
scriptures tell us, that though the Spirit suffereth long and is kind, 
yet he will not always wait. They speak of grieving the Spirit, 
of quenching the Spirit. They speak of the fearful looking for 
of judgment and fiery indignation in the breasts of those who have 
rejected his offers of mercy. It is a melancholy thing to see a 
blasted tree in the greenwood * or a becalmed ship at sea drifting 
on the rocks, when but a few miles off, the winds are careering 
in their playful courses. But more melancholy and sad is the 
condition of him, of whom God has said, lie is joined to his idols, 
let him alone, Hos. iv. 17. Yet such there are, for the Spirit of God 
will not always strive, and the sin against the Holy Spirit is the sin 
that will not be forgiven. 

The Holy Spirit is the author of Eegeneration. Hence it was 
that our Saviour said with such solemnity to Nicodemus, Verily, 



42 



INFLUENCES OF THE SPIRIT. 



verily, I say unto thee, except a man he horn of water and of the 
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, John iii. 5. 

The Spirit does not leave believers when he has led them to 
Christ He dwells in them as an holy temple to the Lord, and 
abides with them forever. It is his to form every virtue in the 
heart, and cherish every emotion of good. It is his to mortify 
sin, and to strengthen against temptation. It is his to strengthen 
us, helping our infirmities, and enabling us in prayer to plead for 
the things we need. The Spirit itself maheth intercession for us 
with groanings that cannot he uttered, Rom. viii. 26. 

The influences of the Spirit in the heart, and the fruits of the 
Spirit in the life, constitute the great distinction between the men 
of Grod and the men of the world ; for while the latter go on 
adding sin to sin, the former are known by the fruits of the Spirit 
in their lives, which are love, joy, peace, goodness and faith. 

The doctrines respecting the Spirit of Grod, are both important 
and mysterious. Those who are proud of their own powers, and 
will receive nothing which they cannot comprehend, despise them 
as mere fantasies. But the Bible is full of mysteries. Every- 
thing around us is full of mysteries, Man is a mystery to him- 
self. Is it then unlikely that the plan of our salvation should 
contain revelations that our own reason would never have dis- 
covered ? No, my hearers ; when we have searched all the heights 
and fathomed all the depths of the created universe, — when we 
have walked in search of the depths, and the gates of death have 
been opened to us, and all these hidden things been revealed to 
us, then we may complain that we cannot comprehend all that is 
said concerning that Spirit ivho searcheth all things, even the deep 
things of God, 1 Cor. ii. 10. In the mean time, it is ours, with 
holy reverence, to obey his influences, and to admit him into our 
hearts. It is our part to walk, not after the flesh, but after the 
Spirit ; knowing that if ojiy man have not the Spirit of C hrist, he 
is none of his, Rom. viii. 9. 

Macao, June 4, 1843. 



SEKMON VI. 



JACOB'S PRAYER. 

And Jacob said, Oh God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the 
Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I 
will deal well with thee ; I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of 
all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant ; for with my staff I passed 
over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, 
from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau : for I fear him, lest he will 
come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will 
surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be 
numbered for multitude. — Genesis xxxii. 9-12. 

The life of the patriarch Jacob was a life of much affliction 
and sorrow. At the age of more than six score years, when he 
stood before Pharaoh, he said, The days of the years of my pilgrim- 
age are an hundred and thirty years : few and evil have the days of 
the years of my life been, Gen. xlix. 7. The causes of his afflictions 
were various, but that which chiefly distressed him, and for the 
longest period made him an exile from his father's house, was his 
contention with Esau his brother. It is a melancholy thing that 
in this world, our greatest sorrows often arise where we naturally 
expect the greatest happiness. Thus Jacob found that a brother 
offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and their contentions 
are like the bars of a castle, Pro v. xviii. 19. 

After spending twenty, or ; as many with great reason, suppose 
forty years, away from his father's house, Jacob received a divine 
command to return to his own country. It does not appear that 
he had received any intimation of his brother's feelings towards 
him, during their long separation, and the command that bade- 
him return did not inform him what reception he should meet 
from the injured and revengeful Esau. Yet he had various cir- 
cumstances to encourage him. The divine command itself was 
amply sufficient. Added to this he was cheered by the appear- 
ance of two bands of angels, sent to guard him on his way, and 



44 Jacob's prayer. 

to assure him of the divine protection. Yet as he drew near the end 
of his journey, fears began to arise and distract his mind. He 
knew that he had injured his brother; he knew his violent dis- 
position ; and knew too, that if Esau still retained his anger, it 
was in vain for him, encumbered with his family and flocks, to 
think of escaping from him. The messengers that he sent to find 
grace in his sight, brought back an answer by no means calculated 
to allay his fears. We came to thy brother Esau, anal also he cometh 
to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. The purpose of Esau 
in coming with such a host, is not stated, but the probability is, 
that he came to execute his long-cherished purpose, even to slay 
his brother Jacob, Gen. xxvii. 41. So at least Jacob thought, and 
as may well be supposed, he was greatly afraid and distressed. For 
a while he seems almost to have forgotten the divine command 
and promises, and the guardian host, which though invisible still 
surrounded him, (Ps. xxxiv. 7.) He had toiled long in a foreign 
land, in the day the drought consumed him, and the frost by night, and 
sleep departed from his eyes, Gen. xxxi. 40. He was now return- 
ing to spend, as he hoped, the evening of his days in peace, with 
his flocks and his wealth, his children and his friends, in the land 
of promise. But before he had even entered that desired land, 
or crossed the Jordan that separated it from the profane world 
around, he found himself in danger of losing all and life itself, 
from the hands of a brother. With no ordinary experience, even 
in his life of frequent reverses, he took every precaution to avert 
at least a part of the threatened danger ; and dividing the people 
that ivere with him, and his flocks, and herds, and camels, into two 
bands, he said, If Esau come to the one company and smite it, then 
the other company which is left shall escape. This was all the prepa- 
ration he could make, but it was not all that he could do ; and 
alarmed though he was, he looked up to God, and gave utterance 
to his feelings in a prayer, which in appropriateness, simplicity, 
fervor, and excellence, is equalled only among the prayers of the 
Bible. 

To us, who are as much called upon as ever the ancient 
patriarchs were to address ourselves to God in prayer, it cannot 
but be interesting to know what words they used in their 
addresses to the throne of grace, and with what arguments they 
enforced their supplications, and the prayer before us is full of 
instruction on both these points. Jacob commenced his prayer 
in a manner which, while it expressed strong confidence in God, 



Jacob's prayer. 



45 



combined also some of the strongest reasons that could be urged 
why God should hearken to him, and grant his request. He did 
not appear before him as one who had had no previous communi- 
cations with him. The suppliant was well known to the Almighty, 
as his fathers were before him. Oh God of my father Abraham, 
and God of my father Isaac. It is not an unmeaning form of 
words that is used, when God is called the God of Abraham, and 
Isaac, and Jacob. He is also the God of all men, but he is never 
called the God of Cyrus, or of Kome, as he is called the God of 
Abraham, and the God of Israel. He is in a peculiar manner 
their God, for he formed a covenant with Abraham and his 
descendants, promising to them all needed earthly blessings, and, 
above all, the gift of his own Son, Jesus Christ. This covenant, 
and every blessing connected with it, is referred to every time 
that God is addressed as the God of Abraham, and it was because 
Jacob trusted in that covenant, that he thus calls upon God. He 
pleads his covenant relation with him, as the descendants of those 
to whom special promises had been made, as a reason why he 
should be delivered, in this his time of distress. He had also 
another reason for hoping for deliverance. He had not needlessly 
run into danger. He had not left the path of duty, but was now 
acting in obedience to an express command of God. Might he 
not, therefore, expect that God would put forth his hand and 
protect him ? It is not the custom of God to forsake his people 
in difficulties, when those difficulties come upon them in the way 
of obedience to his injunctions. Jacob had been for many years 
a stranger sojourning in a strange land, but though he sore longed 
after his fathers home, yet he would not take a step thitherward, 
till assured it was agreeable to God's will that he should do so. 
That will was finally intimated to him, and in obedience to it he 
acted. While thus acting, these difficulties came upon him, but 
he comforted himself by saying, it was not himself, but the Lord, 
which said unto him, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred. 
And besides the encouragement he derived from his covenant 
relation to God, and the consciousness of being in the path of 
duty, he was farther sustained by having received a special promise 
of protection. Had God merely commanded him to go, it would 
have been a sufficient warrant to expect protection, but God had 
also said unto him, And I will deal well zuith thee. Stronger 
grounds of encouragement, he could not desire ; more explicit 
assurances of good, he could not need. These grounds of encour- 



46 



Jacob's pkayer. 



agement, be it observed, were not in himself, but in God, and it 
was well for him that he had such grounds for encouragement, 
and such assurances, on which to rest his faith ; for in himself he 
felt that he had no title to the favor of God, and no claim on his 
mercy. The creature of his bounty, and fed by his hand, he 
could see that he had still grievously erred in many points, and 
gone astray, while he had done nothing, and could do nothing, 
that should make God a debtor to himself. He could not but 
feel, as he looked back, that he had sinned greatly in deceiving 
his father, and imposing upon him by false pretences ; and that 
Esau had just cause of complaint against him, for supplanting 
him of his birthright, and defrauding him of his expected blessing. 
It was, therefore, with deep humility and contrition that he now 
confessed himself unworthy of the least of all God's mercies, and his 
truth. How different was his language and his spirit from that 
of his proud descendant, the pharisee, who boldly stood up in 
the temple to demand the favor of God, as the simple debt of jus- 
tice due to his good deeds ! But true piety is ever deeply hum- 
bled before God, and Abraham, and David, and Job, as well as 
Jacob, always abased themselves when they spake unto God, and 
confessed themselves undeserving of his mercies. 

Jacob, amidst all his fears and confessions of guilt, was not 
unmindful of the mercies he had received from God, and he refers 
to them in his prayer, partly that he may express his thankful- 
ness for them, and partly that he may encourage himself with 
the hope of other mercies from God. Had the Lord so highly 
favored him in times past, and will he now desert him ? Surely 
not. True, he was afraid, for danger was very near. True, he 
was unworthy, for he had been a great offender; but still he 
could not forget how the mercy of God had ever led him along, 
and how his truth and faithfulness had still sustained him. It is 
wonderful how soon the memory will run over all the events of 
a long lifetime, and place them in one vivid picture before the 
mind. Space and time are nothing to the living principle within 
us ; and in scarcely more time than it required to speak the 
words, had Jacob recalled his feelings, when, solitary and alone, 
he crossed the Jordan. He thought of his sojourning in the land 
of Mesopotamia, and how there from a small one, he had become 
a strong nation ; and he is now returning, rich in all kinds of 
possessions, to the land of his birth. In all that time the good- 
ness of the Lord had been great to him, and he cannot but speak 



Jacob's peayer. 



47 



of all the mercy and truth he had showed to his servant, fat with my 
staff I passed over Jordan, and now I am become two bands. Thus 
the remembrance of past mercies encouraged him to hope for 
mercies yet to come. 

The prayer itself is a remarkable one. He prays for deliver- 
ance from the hand not of a sworn and hereditary enemy, but 
from the hand of his own brother. Deliver me, I pray thee, from 
the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau ; for I fear him, lest he. 
will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. The expres- 
sion, to smite the mother with the children, was a common one to 
denote the extreme of cruelty and rage. The comparison seems 
to be taken from those who robbed bird's-nests, taking away both 
the mother and the young, and leaving the nest utterly desolate, 
and it shows well how greatly Jacob feared his brother. Sin has 
brought strange things into the world. It has brought confusion 
and contention into the abodes of order and harmony, and armed 
man against his brother. It has obliged the weak to lift up their 
voices to God, who ruleth over all, for protection from those very 
persons who ought to have been their surest defence. 

The prayer of Jacob was short, as the most of those recorded 
in the Scriptures are. It needs not many words, nor vain repe- 
titions, to make known our wants unto God, for his ear is ever 
open to hear, and his heart ever ready to compassionate those in 
any distress. It was also to the point, for Jacob knew what he 
wanted, when he made his prayer unto God ; and it was hearty 
and sincere, for he felt his need of Divine assistance. Though 
he prayed for deliverance from the hand of Esau, who sought his 
life, his prayer breathes no unkind spirit towards him. He still 
calls him his brother. 

But when a man is in earnest in urging any petition, either to 
man or to God, he will not rest satisfied with the bare presenta- 
tion of his request. He will also urge it by the force of every 
argument in his power. His whole prayer is a continued series 
of arguments with God, Before he gave utterance to his peti- 
tion, he addresses him as his covenant God, and pleads that he 
was directly commanded to put himself in his present dangerous 
position. He urges the special promise of favor he had received, 
and draws an argument also from the past mercies of God, and 
even from his own present fears. All these he spreads before 
God. All these he pleads along with his petition. But he has 
still another argument to plead. In the gracious intercourse of 



48 



Jacob's prayer. 



God with his fathers, it had been promised to Abraham and Isaac, 
that they should be greatly increased and multiplied, and that in their 
seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. This promise 
had been repeated to Jacob, many years before the present time, 
when he was fleeing without a companion from the face of Esau. 
Should his brother now be permitted to wreak his vengeance 
upon him, and smite the mother with the children, where would 
be the faithfulness of God? or how could his purposes be accom- 
plished, in making of the seed of Abraham, and Isaac, and 
Jacob, a great nation ? 

But we shall very improperly limit the force of the promise, 
if we confine it to the mere personal descendants, and temporal 
interests of the race of the patriarchs. Its main reference was to 
Christ, and the salvation he was to procure ; for he was to be 
born from among the descendants of Jacob, and in him were all 
the nations of the earth to be blessed. It was this, therefore, 
which Jacob had in mind, when he pleaded with God: Thou 
saidst, I iv ill surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the 
sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. His prayer was, 
therefore, really a prayer in the name of Christ, and, using such 
an argument with God, it could not but prevail. He obtained, 
therefore, that which he prayed for, and when he met his brother, 
the lion was changed into a lamb. And Esau ran to meet him, and 
embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him, and they wept, 
Gen. xxxiii. 4. 

It is a sublime thing to pray. Even on earth, when a subject 
is favored with an audience with his monarch, he comes before 
him with reverence ; he carefully prepares himself, that no re- 
mark he makes may prove displeasing to his superior ; and he 
earnestly expects to receive some benefit from him. If such 
feelings possess our minds, even in our dealings with our fellow- 
creatures, and on matters of merely temporal interest, how much 
more should our hearts be filled with reverence, in the presence 
of the Holy Majesty of heaven, when our dealings with him con- 
cern our soul's eternal well-being. It is true he shows great 
grace in condescending to hear us, and we may always approach 
him with confidence ; but beware lest that confidence degenerate 
into rashness or familiarity. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let 
not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in 
heaven, and thou upon earth; tlierefore, let thy words be few, Ecc. v. 2. 

Stud}-, therefore, the prayers of such men as Jacob, and 



JACOB'S PKAYER. 



49 



David of old, for they are complete and copious formulas for our 
direction. The man whose heart is deeply imbued with reverence 
to God, and with a due sense of his own sinfulness, will reverently 
worship his Creator, and humbly confess his own offences. Filled 
with gratitude for past favors, he will acknowledge his dependence 
upon God for them all, and will pray for a continuation of the 
same. His petitions will not be mere lip service. He will be 
anxious to receive what he asks for, and while he prays with 
submission to the will of God, it will yet be with earnest cries ; 
nor will he fail to bring arguments to plead with his Maker. 
Whatever other arguments he presents, he will not fail to plead 
in the name of Christ, and so doing, he shall be certain of receiv- 
ing his requests, if they be such as shall be good for him to 
receive. Hitherto, said our Saviour, in his last address to his dis- 
ciples, ye have ashed nothing in my name. Ash, and ye shall receive, 
that your joys may he full, John xvi. 24. 

Among all the evidences of the possession of true religion in 
the heart, few are better than the habit of humble, fervent, per- 
severing prayer. Our spiritual life is so dependent upon supplies 
of grace from above, and on constant intercourse with our Maker, 
that a prayerless Christian is a solecism in terms, and an impossi- 
bility in fact. The first evidence of being a child of God is 
given, when it is said, as it was said concerning the persecuting 
Paul of old, Behold, he prayeth / and the hj^pocrite's character is 
pointed out, when it is said, Will he always call upon God? Job 
xxvii. 10. By prayer, we derive every blessing from above. 
The atmosphere we breathe is unfavorable to the growth of reli- 
gion, and it is only by prayer we can receive those supplies that 
are essential to our spiritual well-being. 

" Prayer is the Christian's vital breath, 
The Christian's native air, 
His watchword at the gate of death, 
He enters heaven by prayer." 

Yet it is a duty and privilege sadly neglected; for it is not enough 
merely to say, Lord, Lord, or to repeat a form of words, while 
the heart goeth after vanities. True prayer is a spiritual thing, 
and requires a spiritual frame of mind to offer it aright, and God 
will accept of the broken prayer, and the half-suppressed sigh of 
the contrite heart, when he would turn away from the polished 
speech and well-chosen petition of the self-confident, unhumbled 
pharisee. 

4 



50 



JACOB S PRAYER. 



Fellow- Christian ! what is the character of your prayers ? 
You may find a good test of your growth in grace and Christian 
standing, simply in the character of your prayers. In the prayer 
of Jacob, of which a hasty review has been made, you see that 
everything is to the point, that there is no wandering, no point- 
less, uncertain petitions, no repetitions. He came to the throne 
of grace, and he had an errand there. On what errand do you 
come ? Or do you come, merely because it is a matter of 
course ? He had a petition and a request to offer. What is your 
petition and your request? He came, desiring an answer. Do 
you desire an answer to your praj^ers ? He came with his mouth 
filled with arguments. The covenant of God, a command to 
himself, a special promise, a general promise, that included the 
coming of a Saviour, — all these were his arguments. Do you 
bring arguments? do you plead promises in prayer? If you 
read the Bible carefully, and pondered over it, you would find 
both subjects enough to pray about, and promises and arguments 
with which to fill your prayers. It is careless reading of the 
Scriptures, that is one cause of your barrenness and coldness in 
prayer. 

But further: Jacob's prayer had a full confession of unworthi- 
ness connected with it, and also a thankful acknowledgment of 
mercies received. These are also parts of prayer. "Prayer is 
the offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to 
his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and 
thankful acknowledgment of his mercies." Do your prayers con- 
tain these essential parts ? I do not ask, have they this form ? 
It is most likely they have, — but do these parts of your prayers 
come from your hearts? My brethren, if you would prosper, 
and be accepted in your prayers, I would advise you to study 
and imitate the prayer of Jacob, particularly in these five 
things : — 

1. Have an object when you come. 

2. Plead for it earnestly, with all due arguments. 

3. Confess your own un worthiness. 

4. Acknowledge the mercy of God, which has so long sup- 
plied you. 

5. And, lastly, let all things be done in the name of Jesus 
Christ. 

Macao, Jane 18, 1843. 



SERMON VII. 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. 

They that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 
Psalm xcii. 13. 

The fertility of oriental climates produces many and splendid 
objects to gratify the eye, and gives rise to equal splendor in 
imagery and comparison. The Bible is an Eastern book, and its 
poetry like other eastern poetry, breathes the fragrance of an at- 
mosphere of spices. Every object of beauty is drawn into the 
service of religion, and one familiar with its pages sees almost 
nothing around him that is not sanctified by its frequent allusions 
and comparisons. The sentiment of our text is founded on a 
comparison drawn from the forest trees of the land of Palestine. 
The preceding verse had compared the righteous to the stately 
and towering palm, with its nourishing fruit, and to the cedar of 
Lebanon with its spreading shade, and its undying greenness. 
The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree : he shall grow like the 
cedars in Lebanon. Continuing his comparison, the Psalmist de- 
clares, Those that are planted in the house of the Lord ) shall flourish 
in the courts of our God. 

It is proposed to inquire into the meaning of the expression, 
planted in the house of the Lord, and to show the connection be- 
tween such planting and flourishing in the courts of God. 

The church of God is oftentimes compared to a garden, filled 
with every variety of flower and plant and tree. Yet as in all 
our gardens, weeds infest the ground, and thorns and thistles and 
noxious plants usurp the places reserved for useful and ornamental 
trees, — so it is in the garden of God. It is not every plant, that 
makes a fair show, which has a right to stand there. There may 
even be branches of the useful vines, which bearing no fruit, 
shall be taken away, John xv. 2, and of those which are utterly 



52 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. 



useless, the stern decree has gone forth, Cut it down, why cumhereth 
it the ground f It becomes therefore a matter of the utmost moment 
to discern between the bad and the good ; to distinguish between 
the Trees of righteousness, the branch of his planting, and those 
which bearing only wild and noxious fruits, are rejected and nigh 
unto cursing ; whose end is to be burned, Heb. vi. 8. 

The planting here spoken of is evidently something more than 
mere external form. It certainly implies that that which is planted 
possesses a living principle within, which grows and flourishes 
when once its roots are placed in the appropriate soil. This 
planting, therefore, in the house of the Lord — or, divesting the 
expression of its figurative dress — this numbering of any one in 
the church, and among the people of God, does not consist in ex 
ternal rites and ordinances alone. That baptism is a solemn and 
important and most useful ordinance, is admitted by all, who pay 
any respect to the institutions of our God ; but that baptism 
alone, or the Lord's Supper alone, or both of them together, can 
save the soul, is an error of the most dangerous kind, and worthy 
of the cunning and malice of the god of this world who invented 
it. Baptism is not regeneration. If the blood of bulls and of 
goats could not take away sin, shall the sprinkling of a little 
water on the outward body, wash away the stains of the unseen 
soul? Did not Simon Magus, who believed and was baptized, 
still remain in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity ? Did 
not Judas rise from the Lord's table to go to his own place, with 
the fearful declaration sounding after him, good were it for that 
man, if he had never been born, Mark xiv. 21. Thousands there 
are, you may have known such, who have been baptized in the 
name of Christ, and yet by their conduct shame the very heathen 
themselves. Shall their baptism save them ? The confessions of 
faith of all the reformed churches are on this point, plain and 
explicit. Thus in the twenty-seventh of the articles of religion 
of the Church of England, it is expressly called, — not regenera- 
tion, — but "a sign of regeneration or the new birth, whereby, 
as by an instrument they that receive baptism rightly, are grafted 
into the church." Such is its true nature. It is merely an instru- 
ment, and if rightly used, is of excellent service. But if there 
be nothing but the instrument, — if a man be merely received into 
the visible church by this outward ordinance, — if there be no root, 
and living principle, — and if that living principle do not exert 
itself and grow, — then he is only a dry stick in the house of God. 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. 



53 



He is not planted there. The blast shall prostrate him to the 
ground, and he shall be gathered and cast forth with others, to 
become fuel for the fire. Neither by this planting in the house 
of the Lord are we to understand, a mere profession of religion, 
even though it be joined to external morality, and a blameless de- 
portment. It is not enough merely to read a prayer or two, and 
perhaps glance at the Bible for a short time every day. It is not 
enough to be a regular attendant at the house of God, and while 
there to give a respectful hearing to the messages delivered by his 
servants. It is not enough to obey all human laws, and act with 
justice and kindness towards one's neighbors. All this is well 
and commendable. It is essential to the well-being of society, 
and the happiness of the social circle ; and it is especially impor- 
tant as leading to better things. But I repeat it, all this is not 
enough. You may have all this, and perish forever. You are 
not satisfied when you plant a fruit tree in your garden, and come 
to it year after year seeking fruit, if you find it standing tall and 
erect in the place where you planted it, but fruitless. It may not 
disfigure the scene, but why these leaves and blossoms, if the 
solid reward of the labor bestowed upon it be wanting ? Out it 
down, ivhy cumbereth it the ground f And is a mere externally 
blameless deportment all that God expects, when himself has told 
us, The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, long -suffering, gentle- 
ness, goodness, faith, Gal. v. 22. Will he be satisfied with mere 
outward show, the leaves and flowers of lip service, who looks at 
the inward man, and values the sighing of the contrite heart, and 
the praise of the grateful soul, more than gold or gems ? 

Neither will it be deemed sufficient, if one, in addition to an 
admission to the church by baptism, and a generally correct de- 
portment, adds also, a zeal for external ceremonies, and a polemic 
eagerness for discussion on disputed points in religion. There 
may be much of this where there is no real interest in religion. 
The Pharisees were extremely eager to defend the religion they 
professed, and they would compass sea and land to make one 
proselyte. But this did not secure for them the approbation of 
our Saviour. On the contrary, he pronounced the spirit that 
actuated them to be the spirit of this world, and not of God, and 
declared concering them, Every plant that my heavenly Father hath 
not planted, shall he rooted up, Matt. xv. 13. 

We are not therefore to judge by mere external appearances. 
Many look fair and flourishing for a time, who do not continue 



54 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. 



long. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers 
of iniquity do flourish ; it is that they shall he destroyed forever, Ps. 
xcii. 7. It is a terrible description that is given of such, by the 
apostle Jude, — and a terrible fate awaits them. They are trees 
whose fruit withereth, without fruit twice dead, plucked up by the roots, 
to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever, Jude 12, 13. 

By those planted in the house of the Lord, we are to under- 
stand such as not only enjoy the ordinances of religion, and the 
care of the divine husbandman, but such as show also, that they 
have a principle of spiritual life to be cared for, and bring forth 
fruit answerable to the care bestowed upon them. In other words, 
they are living, growing, and active Christians; drawing their 
spiritual life from above, and constantly tending thitherward, as 
the trees stretch out their arms towards heaven. 

That anything planted should grow and flourish with vigor, 
it must have its roots deeply implanted in appropriate soil ; it 
must be watered by frequent showers of heaven ; it must be pro- 
tected from the cold blasts and nipping frosts of winter as well as 
from the sun's too scorching rays. It will need constant care and 
attention ; and its luxuriance and waywardness, must be trimmed 
and restrained by the use of the pruning knife. If it be a good 
tree it will be constantly growing ; while its roots strike deeper 
into the earth, its branches will rise higher towards heaven ; its 
trunk will become more solid, it will yield less to the blasts that 
sweep around it; and its plentiful fruit will satisfy the expecta- 
tion of him who watched and cherished it with so much care. It 
will continue vigorous and healthy, even in old age, and the 
children of him who reared its first shoots, will rejoice in its wide- 
spreading shade. 

Such, emphatically, is the Christian. He is planted in the 
house of the Lord ; for the church is the garden of God, and the 
plants that are really planted there, are objects of the special care 
of their divine master and cultivator. It is a spiritual planting 
we speak of, such as the apostle describes when he says, Being 
planted in the likeness of Christ's death, we shall be also in the likeness 
of his resurrection, Eom. vi. 5. That is, those who are really 
members of the church of Grod, are such as are united to Christ 
by a living faith, and they thus become one with him. They 
draw their spiritual life from the merits of his death, and expect 
in virtue of his resurrection to be raised again from the dead, and 
made to partake of all spiritual blessings. It is not a mere pro- 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. 



55 



fession of union that they make, for as the same apostle declares, 
thej are rooted and grounded in the love of God — because in his 
love they live. This is the soil from which they derive their 
nourishment and strength. It is this which supplies every want, 
which sustains them when languishing, and causes them vigor- 
ously to increase. Neither is it by any man's own merits or good 
desert that he is placed in the garden of the Lord, and there en- 
abled to grow. This is forcibly expressed by the apostle Paul in 
his comparison of the church to an olive-tree, from which some 
of the branches were broken off, and others from a wild olive- 
tree grafted in, to partake of the root and fatness of the olive. 
Boast not thyself against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest 
not the root, but the root thee. Thou wert cut out of the olive-tree 
tuhich is ivild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a 
good olive-tree, Eom. xi. 18, 24. 

The care which God employs in selecting and planting the 
trees of righteousness in his garden, is exercised over them, as 
long as they remain in his house below. The church is but a 
nursery in which they are to remain for a season, until they be 
ready for removal and transplanting, in a more genial clime. 
While here, they enjoy his special care and attention. His word 
comes down like the rain from heaven, Is. lv. 10, for their good, 
while his Spirit diffuses his silent influences, like the precious 
clews of the night, over their souls. The hot blasts of Satan's 
temptations assail them at times, or the world's chilling in- 
fluences creep over them, yet he is ever near to observe them, 
and to shield them from harm if shelter be needed. Sorrows and 
afflictions often come upon the people of God, and sore bereave- 
ments strip them of many of those things in which they delighted; 
even as you have seen a tree stripped of jfs leaves, with its 
branches broken by the storms that raged around it ; but their 
troubles are all permitted and overruled with a wise reference to 
their good. For we are like plants that need constant pruning 
and restraint ; and the wise husbandman will apply his sharp 
knife with vigor, if he see that otherwise his hopes of abundant 
fruit may be disappointed. Although this is not the permanent 
station of God's people — although it is certain that he has nobler 
work for them to do above, yet even here he expects them to 
serve him. Herein is my Father glorified, said our Saviour, that ye 
bear much fruit: so shall ye be my disciples, John xv. 8. Those 
that be planted in the house of the Lord must show the effect of 



56 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LOED. 



their superior training, by their vigorous growth and abundant 
fruit. / am like a green olive-tree in the house of God, said David 
in his early manhood, Ps. lii. 8 ; and like the palm-tree he still 
brought forth fruit in old age, 1 Chron. xxix. 1 ; and like the 
cedar-tree he was fat and flourishing. 

Such is the character of those who are really planted in the 
house of (rod below. I am aware that there are those who are 
said to be planted there, to whom a widely different description 
belongs. But it is for them to say why they differ from the de- 
scription he has given of his own people. It is for them to say, 
when he comes seeking fruit from them, year after year, and still 
finding none, why they have disappointed his expectations. It 
is for them to show cause why the axe, which is laid at the root 
of the trees, should not be applied, and the tree that bringeth not 
forth good fruit be hewn down and cast into the fire ; and woe 
unto all such as are not ready when he comes to render him their 
fruits in their seasons I 

After remaining the appointed time in the house of Grod 
below, his people are removed to their eternal homes above. The 
proper time for such removal is known to the great Husbandman 
alone. It sometimes seems to us as if the excellent of the earth 
are removed at seasons, when the vacancy occasioned by their 
absence can hardly be supplied. But it is not so. He who has 
determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of men's habi- 
tation, knows best when to reward the faithfulness of his servants. 
They are taken away, but it is that they may occupy a nobler 
station nearer to himself. They that be planted in the house of the 
Lord on earth, shall flourish in the courts of our God in heaven. In 
that region of eternal blessedness they shall flourish forever. 
There are no chilling blasts, nor scorching droughts, to injure the 
fair trees of righteousness. The pruning knife is never needed 
there ; and of them it may most truly be said, Blessed are they ! For 
they shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out 
her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf 
shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither 
shall cease from yielding fruit, Jer. xvii. 8. It is one of the pecu- 
liar principles of that state of happiness, that it is subject to no 
vicissitudes, aud never comes to an end. As the days of a tree are 
the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their 
hands, Is. lxv. 22. 

I have used figurative language freely in explaining this pas- 



PLANTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. 



57 



sage of holy writ, because it is a passage that calls for such lan- 
guage. But let not the comparisons and analogies adduced cover 
and conceal the important truths they are intended to make known. 

If God's word compares his people to trees planted in the 
garden, then here is a test by which you may judge of your own 
character. Are you thus planted in the house of the Lord ? And 
if that same word declares that it is only those who are planted 
in his house below, that shall flourish in his courts above, then 
you have, not merely a test of character, but the strongest of all 
motives to find where you are placed, and to act accordingly. 

Observe the character of his people. They are planted in the 
house of the Lord. The people of God are found in the church 
of God. It is not the teaching of any human master to which 
they yield implicit obedience. Much may be learned from men, 
and by the assistance of men, but God's word is the standard of 
all right — yea, the sum and the substance of all truth. Let it be 
your study then to understand that word, for the church is built 
upon it ; nor can you know whether you are in the church if you 
understand not the obvious declarations of its pages. It has its 
mysteries, and it has its obscurities ; but the parts that are neces- 
sary to be understood, are so plain, that the wayfaring man, though 
a, fool, need not err therein, Is. xxxv. 8. 

But observe, it is not enough to be in the church by mere bap- 
tism and external participation in its ordinances. You must be 
planted there if you wish to flourish in the courts of God. Your 
life must be derived from heaven, and sustained from heaven, 
and your conduct must be answerable to your privileges. It is 
fruit the Master looks for from you. Leaves and blossoms are 
very beautiful ; but the fig- tree that mocked the expectations of 
the hungry having nothing thereon but leaves only, was cursed 
and withered away, Matt. xxi. 19. What fruit are you bearing? 
How much do you glorify our Father in heaven ? If he came 
now seeking fruit from you, should he find any ? And if not, 
what excuse could you offer him ? how prove your claim to be 
considered a branch of his planting f 

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and 
cast into the fire. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall 
enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my 
Father which is in heaven, Matt. vii. 19, 21. 

Macao, June 25, 1843. 



SERMON VIII. 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, 
Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, 
Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of Man hath not 
where to lay his head. 

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and 
bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou 
and preach the kingdom of God. 

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee : but let me first go bid them farewell 
which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, ~No man having put 
his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. — Luke 
ix. 51-62. 

When Christ came, the secret thoughts of many hearts were 
revealed. His coming had been anxiously looked for. A general 
expectation of great things following his advent prevailed, and 
the whole Jewish nation may be said to have been in the posture 
of anxious waiting to see what he would accomplish. But his 
humble parentage and place of abode disheartened many, and his 
lowly appearance, unattended by trains of courtly followers, dis- 
gusted more. It was not long after his public ministry commenced, 
that the scornful cry was heard, Can any good thing come out of 
Nazareth f and his friends were told with bitter scoffs, that out of 
Galilee ariseth no prophet. Yet notwithstanding these disadvan- 
tages, as worldly men would call them, his doctrines excited at- 
tention, and forced a reluctant assent, even from his bitterest 
enemies. The splendor of his miracles, and the sublimity and 
truthfulness of his teachings convinced many. Their consciences 
responded to his calls, though their will remained in opposition 
to him. Yet some at least were found to follow, and to serve him. 
He could have secured many followers, by promises, which as the 
Son of God he could easily have performed. Had he only con- 
cealed the difficulties that attended a profession of faith in his 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



59 



name, he would have been attended by crowds of disciples. But 
he concealed nothing. As Joshua said to the over-forward Is- 
raelites, when they declared their readiness to serve the Lord, Ye 
cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God: he is a jealous God, 
Josh. xxiv. 19. So Christ showed plainly the strict and uncom- 
promising nature of his religion. He held up a crown of life and 
pointed to eternal joys, as the reward of his faithful servants ; 
but he did not hesitate to show the rough and stormy road that 
led to that crown, and the martyr's death by which they often 
entered on that life. No man ever yet entered the Christian 
church to whom the apostle Paul did not say, All that will live 
godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, 2 Tim. iii. 12. In like 
manner our Saviour told all who came unto him, to count the cost 
before they undertook his service ; for as he said to his disciples, 
In the world ye shall have tribulation, John xvi. 83. These warn- 
ings were repeated as often as new offers of service were made. 
Thus it came to pass on one occasion, as they went in the way, 
that a certain person offered to cast in his lot among the disciples 
of Christ. What induced him to make this offer is not stated. 
He may have been impressed by the sight of the miracles of 
Christ. His conscience may have been touched by his solemn 
words, or the eloquence of him, who spake as never man spake, 
may have arrested his attention. It appears from the account 
given by Matthew, that he was a scribe, belonging therefore to the 
learned class in Judea. It is most probable that he was a person 
somewhat fond of a life of ease and enjoyment, which at the same 
time would give opportunities of attending to literary pursuits, and 
those studies of ethics which were then in vogue in the heathen 
schools of morality. He seems to have expected peculiar oppor- 
tunities of gratifying his taste, under the teachings of such a 
master as Christ ; while the thought of want, or exposure to 
personal inconveniences, in the company of one who could feed 
thousands with a few loaves and fishes, — or when the storm raged 
could still it with a word, appears not to have entered his mind. 
With much confidence therefore, he approaches the Saviour, Lord, 
I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. It was a bold promise 
made, as too many are, under the excitement of the moment, only 
to be broken when the excitement has worn away. When the 
Israelites were at the foot of Mount Sinai, with the remembrance 
of the Eed Sea, and of Elim, and of Massah and Meribah, still 
fresh in their minds, it was easy for them to say, All that the Lord 



60 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



hath spoken we will do, Exod. xix. 18. But it was not so easy to 
do as they had said, when water failed them in the desert, and 
their soul loathed the light bread that sustained them. When 
Peter was surrounded by his fellow-disciples, and the melting 
words of Christ's affection still sounded in his ears, it was easy 
for him to say, Lord, I will lay down my life for thy sake, John xiii. 
37, but he found it a harder trial than he had expected, when the 
stern soldiers gathered around him, and a scoffing damsel said, 
Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth, Mark xiv. 67. The scribe 
had seen the miracles of Christ, when the sick were restored to 
health, and thousands were fed by his miraculous stores.. He had 
listened to his words, when so many crowded to hear him, that 
they even trod upon one another, .and he thought it would be 
always so. He thought it would be pleasant to be with such a 
man, and to follow him in triumphal procession from city to city ; 
but he knew not the toil and self-denial, and the suffering and 
sorrow of the private life of Christ. He was like a raw recruit, 
who is willing enough to enlist for the war, but supposes that all 
can be done in the shade, and amidst delights, without sweat and 
dust, and beyond the reach of the enemy's arms. 

To try his courage, and to open to him the secrets of his 
heart, Christ told him his own condition in life. It was not such 
as he had pictured to himself. Though really Lord of all, he 
was now a stranger in his own dominions, and though a few 
friends occasionally administered to his wants, yet house or home 
of his own, he had none. Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air 
have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head. And 
as the disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his 
Lord, those who follow him are not authorized to expect better 
accommodations. Pause for a moment, at this description. They 
are Christ's own words, you hear, and the person so destitute is 
God's own Son ! Before all things, — for whom all things were 
made, — by whose power all things exist, when he came to the 
earth, and took up his abode among men, the very beasts of the 
field, and the wandering birds of the air, had better homes than 
he ! Is there not meaning in the apostle's words, when he said, 
Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ; though he was rich, 
yet, for your sokes, he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might 
become rich, 2 Cor. viii. 9. If he has done this much for us, shall 
we count it hard that he expects his disciples to walk in his foot- 
steps, to drink of the cup of which he drinks, and to be baptized 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



61 



with the baptism wherewith he is baptized ? Has he not a right 
to say, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take 
up his cross daily, and follow me t Luke ix. 23. What effect the 
words of Christ produced upon the scribe, is not stated, nor does 
it concern us to know. The words themselves are recorded for 
our careful consideration ; and he that will be Christ's disciple, 
must make up his mind to bear all this, should his Master so 
require it. He may not see fit to call you to such self-denial ; but 
if he should, you must cheerfully bear it. 

Another man was seen, for whom Christ had a work to do. 
He therefore gives him a special call, Follow me He meant to 
make him a preacher of the gospel. The office of the ministry is 
of so much importance and solemnity, that no man should under- 
take it, who has not received a distinct call thereto. A man can- 
not enter the ministry, as he can the army or the navy, or the 
profession of law or of medicine. It is a solemn thing to be a 
messenger of the Lord of hosts, to be an ambassador of Christ, 
and none but those who have suitable qualifications, and a special 
appointment, should take this office upon themselves. Ordinarily, 
it is not difficult to discover whether one is called to the ministry 
or not ; but there are frequently cases in which those who are 
called to it ; hesitate to undertake its duties. A sense of their 
own unfitness, as in the case of Moses, or an apprehension that 
they have other and more pressing engagements, deters them 
from commencing new ones. Thus it was with the person here 
addressed. There appears to have been no unwillingness to fol- 
low Christ, but his aged father was at home, and probably neax 
the end of his life. His assistance might be needed, to pay the 
last sad rites, and filial piety urged him to remain till his father 
should no more need his services. Lord, suffer me first to go and 
bury my father. This was as fair an excuse as could be offered, 
but the Lord did not consider it sufficient. There were others 
who had less important callings, and who could easily perform 
all that was required for his father; but for him, there was a 
work to do, whose importance admitted of no delay. Let the dead 
bury their dead. Let those whose minds are occupied only with 
the affairs of this world, who have no proper sense of spiritual 
things, who are spiritually dead, and have no nobler work to per- 
form, let them attend to earthly matters ; but go thou and preach 
the kingdom of God. This is an employment above all others, and 
must, therefore, take the precedence of all others. It was not 



62 



TEEMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



the object of Christ to depreciate the importance of the social vir- 
tues, nor did he at all intimate that the dead should not be decently 
interred ; but he did mean to teach, that, when a man is called to 
preach the gospel, he must suffer no other engagement to inter- 
fere with this. He called Matthew, as he sat at the receipt of 
custom, and he left all and followed him. He called the sons of 
Zebedee, as they were with their father, and they immediately 
left the ship and their father, and followed him. He called for 
Peter, he called for Nathaniel, he called for Paul, and they obeyed 
his call, leaving all for him, and exclaiming, Woe is me, if I preach 
not the gospel, 1 Cor. ix. 16. Say not that the sacrifice is too 
great, or that too much is asked, when this is required. No 
sacrifice, not even life itself, can be too great, when made for the 
sake of him, who created us at first, and redeemed us with his 
own precious blood. It was to the praise of Levi, that the 
inspired penman wrote concerning him, He said to his father and 
to his mother, I have not seen him : neither did he acknowledge his 
brethren, nor know his ovm children : for they have observed thy word, 
and kept thy covenant, Deut. xxxiii. 9. 

There was still another offer of service made to our Lord, but ap- 
parently by one who had not properly considered the nature of the 
service he was about to undertake. He was willing to follow Christ, 
but he wished first to arrange matters comfortably in his own house. 
He wished to go and say farewell to those in his own house, but 
he does not appear to have intended to break off all connection 
with the world. It was his desire, so to arrange his family 
affairs {anoTa^aadat) as to secure a comfortable retreat for himself, 
if religion should at any time offer less than he now expected 
from it. His proposal really amounted to a proposition to keep 
the world, as well as obey Christ, though it did not bear so much 
openly on its face. Lord, I will follow thee, but let me first go and 
bid them farewell which are at home in my house. He was willing 
enough to follow Christ, provided he could do it in peace with 
the world, and did not thereby close the door against his return 
to his old companions. Such followers Christ did not want. 
The whole heart, or none at all. The world must be totally 
renounced, and the kingdom of God first and chiefly sought. No 
man, having put his hands to the plough, and looking back, is fit for 
the kingdom of God. He that commences any undertaking, how- 
ever humble it may be, must give it his undivided attention, if 
he wishes to succeed. More especially is this true in those things 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



63 



that relate to the other world. We cannot serve God and Mammon. 
He that starts to flee from the devoted city of destruction, but 
turns and looks back, longing again to re-enter its walls, and 
enjoy its delights, will never escape to the mountain of safety. 
Remember Lot's wife. He that comes to the battle-field, but turns 
his back when the charge is sounded, may indeed save his life for 
the time, but the victor's crown will never be his. He that com- 
mences the Christian course, but afterwards, for any cause what- 
soever, turns back, will find himself totally unfit for the kingdom 
of Grod, and his latter end shall be worse than the first. 

This account is exceedingly instructive, by reason of its show- 
ing us so clearly the terms of discipleship, and the claims of the 
religion of Christ. The particular circumstances of each person 
in this account, are not so much the objects of attention, as the 
view it gives us of the spirit required in those who would follow 
Christ. The circumstances of different men vary, according to 
the age and country in which they live, and the rank they hold 
in life ; but the spirit and disposition of each member of the 
church of Christ, must be the same, whatever difference there be 
in his outward circumstances. 

The spirit required in those who would follow Christ, as we 
may easily gather from the narrative before us, is one that would 
induce them to give up bodily ease and pleasure, wandering 
about, as has been done by others — yes, and by the ancestors of 
some of us — in deserts and mountains, and dwelling in dens and 
caves of the earth. It is such a spirit as will induce a man to 
tear himself away from father and mother, from wife and chil- 
dren, and, if need be, to endure the changed affection, and even 
the hatred, of those he loves best on earth, for the sake of Christ. 
It is that spirit which will induce a man to look upon the world 
as perishing dross, and will enable him on occasion to take cheer- 
fully the spoiling of his goods, and to embrace the stake, and 
gaze upon the flaming fagots, not accepting deliverance, when 
that deliverance can be obtained only by renouncing the service 
of the Master, whose cause we have embraced. It may be that 
none of those who hear me, shall ever be called upon to make 
such sacrifices, and endure such sufferings as these, for the sake 
of Christ. And yet, who shall assure you that you shall not? 
In the life-time of nearly all who hear me, all of these sacrifices 
have been made for Christ, and even death itself has been endured 
for his sake. Even now do the native Christians of Madagascar 



64 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



wander houseless in the tangled forests, rather than renounce the 
service of Christ, and I have yet to learn that Satan is not willing 
again to raise up persecutions in Christian lands, or that there are 
not men wicked enough to persecute others for conscience' sake, 
or that God may not see fit again to purify his church by fire and 
sword., and thus separate the precious from the vile. 

But all this is not the hardest that a man may be called to 
endure, for the sake of Christ. A man may suffer martyrdom 
itself, with but little of the spirit of a true martyr. It is the 
daily routine of Christian life and duty, that calls for the sorest 
warfare, and the most painful sacrifices. Were there only a few 
strong efforts to be made, the work were easily accomplished. 
But with steady aim, and with single purpose to persevere, even 
to the end of life, in a course of self-denial, of mortification of sin, 
and seeking after holiness — this is no easy work. To walk in 
the valley of humiliation, after being on the heights of prosperity 
— this is far harder than mere bodily penances and austerities. 
To live the secret life of faith, and even to feel and act as a 
stranger in the earth, — to meet and overcome all of Satan's temp- 
tations, — to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy, — to maintain 
a constant warfare against every sin that rises in the breast, — this 
is that which calls for more than human strength. No one, who 
knows his own heart, will ever promise in his own strength to 
follow Christ whithersoever he goes. But, through Christ 
strengthening us, it can be done ; and the sacrifices the human 
nature shrinks from, will appear to grace as only light afflictions, 
enduring for a moment, and not worthy to be compared with the 
exceeding and eternal weight of glory that is to follow. 

The Christian life, therefore, is a life of self-denial. TThile in 
these tabernacles, we must walk by faith, and not by sight ; like 
the Israelites who toiled through the desert, in hopes of entering 
the promised land. But let it not be supposed that the wav 
through the desert is all one of gloom and sorrow. On the con- 
trary, he who cheerfully endures the self-denial, and faithfully 
performs the duties attending his course, will find incomparably 
more satisfaction than the votaries of pleasure, or other followers 
of the world ever enjoy. The Israelites in the wilderness suffered 
far more from their own sins and follies, than from the self-denials 
and toils of their route. It was their own murmurings and sins 
that called down the judgments of God, and brought the plague 
of serpents among them ; while, during their whole course, they 



TERMS OF DISCIPLESHIP. 



65 



experienced the daily favor and care of God. Their raiment 
waxed not old, nor did their foot swell. Manna from heaven 
supplied their daily bread, and they drank water from the rock, 
while the pillar of fire and of cloud was their shelter by day, and 
their light by night. It is thus with the Christian. Follow your 
Saviour in the path he has marked out for you, and, though 
often wearied and heavy-laden, it will bring you unto him, and 
you shall find rest to your souls. 



Macao, July 2, 1843. 



5 



SERMON IX. 



"WALKING WITH GOD. 
And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, because God took him. — Genesis v. 2-i. 

Enoch, the seventh in direct descent from Adam, was born 
about A. M. 622. When he was born, Adam, the father of the 
human race, was yet in his prime, and as far as we know, no man 
had yet died on the earth, except Abel. 

The remembrance of the fall of man and his sorrowful de- 
parture from the garden of Eden must still have been fresh in the 
minds of men. Doubtless Adam related the melancholy story to 
his descendants, all of whom must have seen him, and had op- 
portunities of personal intercourse with him. Nay, Paradise itself 
remained. Its high walls were visible to all, and the fiery cheru- 
bim and flaming sword still guarded the way to the tree of life, 
and offered a living and fearful commentary to the warnings and 
exhortations of Adam to his descendants. 

Yet in the very sight and presence of him who had fallen 
from his state of perfect innocence and purity, and in full view of 
the living and flaming emblems of God's displeasure against sin, 
mankind were daily becoming more and more corrupt. Sin and 
misery had already crept over the world. Ungodliness was rife 
among men. Every imagination of the thoughts of men's hearts 
was only evil continually, and the fair world which during the 
lifetime of one then alive, had been the abode of holiness and 
bliss, was already subjected to the empire of Satan, and with but 
few exceptions men had departed from God. Adam had many 
sons and daughters, from whom the whole world was peopled ; 
but they all seem to have been ranged under the banners of Cain 
or of Seth. Of Cain, and all his descendants and followers, we 
know not that even one was found on the Lord's side. From the 
descendants of Seth there were several. The church of God was 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



07 



formed in his family, and before the flood, as well as after, there 
has been no time from the creation until the present period, when 
God has not had a church on earth. It is, however, too evident 
that many even of Seth's descendants were ungodly men, and 
that the church of God was but a little flock, while his enemies 
on earth were numerous and powerful. Already was it necessary 
in the time of Enoch to denounce the approaching judgments of 
God. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, 
Behold! the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute 
judgment ipon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, 
of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of 
all their hard speeches lahich ungodly sinners have spoken against 
him, Jude 14, 15. 

It is needful to bear in mind this almost universal defection 
from God, in order rightly to appreciate the excellency of Enoch's 
character, and the power of religion in his heart. He lived in an 
age with much to discourage him. The wickedness of men was 
all around him, and their hard speeches which they spake against 
God, daily sounded in his ears. Yet faithful he stood ; and so 
exemplary was his conduct, so perfectly did he walk with God, 
that he received special marks of his favor, and was exempted 
from the ordinary lot of men. He was not, because God took him. 
It may have been while he was preaching to men, and warning 
them of the judgments of God, that their wrath rose against him, 
and God, to deliver him from their hands, translated him that he 
should not see death, Heb. xi. 5. 

The apostle Paul, in that bright catalogue of holy men, which 
he gives in Heb. xi. bestows special commendation upon Enoch, 
By faith Enoch was translated, that he shoidd not see death, for before 
his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God, Heb. xi. 5. 

It is not so easy a matter to walk with God, as is commonly 
imagined. Were nothing more required, than a mere externally 
decent deportment, an outward respect for religion, and an at- 
tendance upon its outward ordinances, with an occasional partici- 
pation of some of its more solemn rites, it were all easy enough. 
But had this been all that is included in the expression to walk 
with God, the Bible would never have described it, in such terms 
as a race, a ivarfare, a battle, a pilgrimage, and others expressive of 
difficulty, of toil, of suffering, of internal conflicts, and of strug- 
gling with Satan's temptations. 

How can two walk together except they be agreed ? Amos iii. 3. 



68 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



But naturally what agreement is there between God and man ? 
God is in heaven and we upon earth. God is all-powerful and 
all-wise, we frail and ignorant. God is the sovereign ruler of all, 
we creatures and subjects, and worse than all, the slaves of his 
bitterest enemy. God is all-holy and just. Righteousness is his 
delight, and he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot 
look upon iniquity. Are we not defiled by sin, from the sole of 
the foot to the head f How can two beings so diverse walk together ? 
What can his holiness find in us, but objects of abhorrence? 
or his justice but objects of wrath ? Which of his attributes can 
delight in man, or make him a friend ? Naturally we walk con- 
trary to God, and possessing such a character as he does, he must 
necessarily walk contrary to us. A change must occur ere God 
and man can harmoniously meet. But a change cannot occur in 
the unchangeable Jehovah. His eternal essence and perfect 
rectitude, do not admit of variableness, nor the least shadow of 
turning. Heaven and earth shall wax old and be removed like 
a scroll, while he continues the same. Heaven and earth shall 
pass away, but his Avord never changes. In man alone therefore 
can the change occur,- — and its necessity is strongly set forth by 
our Saviour, when he said to ISTicodenius, Verily, verily I say unto 
you, except a man be bom again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of 
God. And how great a change it is ! It is from darkness to 
light, — from error to truth, — from sin to holiness. The greatness 
of the change is expressed by the several comparisons in scripture 
by which it is represented. In the verse just quoted our Saviour 
calls it a new birth. There is a vast difference between the condition 
of the unborn infant as it lies in darkness and silence in the womb, 
and its life, when its ears hear the sound, and its eyes perceive 
the light of this world. 

The change is elsewhere compared to a resurrection from the 
dead. You hath he quickened ivho were dead in tresjiasses and sins, 
Eph. ii. 1. Yv T hen the prophet was led out to the valley full of 
bones, and made to pass by them, and beheld them lying scattered, 
and naked, and broken, and dried, — could he hope that they 
would ever live again ? Was it not mockery when the Lord said 
to him, Son of man, can these bones live f Ezek. xxvii. 3. To man 
it would seem so, but the answer he gave was wise, Oh Lord God, 
thou hiowest. Human power could never make them live, but 
when the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, then there was a 
noise and a shaking, and bone came together to his bone, and 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



69 



sinews and flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them 
above, and the breath came into them and they lived. Thus, when 
the power of God is manifested in calling the souls of men back 
to himself to walk with him, there is a change as wonderful and 
decided, as when the mouldering skeleton is raised and restored 
to life again. The change required in order that men may walk 
with God, is also compared to a new creation, and what is more 
unlike than nonentity and existence ? If any man be in Christ, 
there is a new creation, 2 Cor. v. 17. 

These comparisons all express the greatest conceivable change, 
and they all distinctly inform us that without this change, it is 
impossible to walk with God. What fellowship hath light with 
darkness ? When one appears, does not the other flee away ? In 
our natural state, we are the servants of sin and Satan, but what 
concord hath Christ with Belial ? No ! men must come out from 
their natural state, and be separate from the sins and ways of 
the world, ere God will dwell in them, and walk with them, and 
be their God. The natural world has its antipathies. Oil and 
water will not unite ; nor will the fruits of the torrid zone come 
to maturity beneath the poles. Is it strange then that holiness 
and sin should be opposed, or that the love of God should not 
flourish in a heart preoccupied with the world? 

How then do men walk with God? Wherein consists the 
nature of that mysterious change that fits man for intercourse 
with his Maker ? How is he sustained from day to day in his 
heaven ward course ? These are hard questions to answer. Who 
can tell what life is ? You see a plant in its growth — you watch 
it from the moment its tender shoot first appears above the 
ground, to the period when it stands displayed in all the fresh- 
ness and beauty of its bloom, and ripeued fruitage; but can you 
understand the process by which a black and naked seed which 
lies in the palm of your hand, gives rise to a tree whose fruit sup- 
ports, and whose shade refreshes the birds of the air and the 
beasts of the field ? You see a playful child, and watch him as 
he grows up to manhood ; but can you explain that principle of 
life which makes him to differ from the dead body you have seen 
consigned to the silent grave ? If you cannot understand even 
earthly things, how shall the things of heaven be explained ? The 
principle of spiritual life is as mysterious in its nature as that 
which sustains the vegetable or the animal world. He alone who 
possesses it knows what it is ; but even he cannot impart the 



70 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



knowledge of it to those who possess it not. Talk to a deaf man 
of sounds, or to a blind man of colors, and what is he the wiser ? 
But though we cannot explain the nature of the life of God in the 
soul of man, in its hidden and mysterious processes, we can see 
its effects, we can judge of its causes, and this is all we need to 
know. 

The difference between the Christian and the man of the 
world is, that the former looks chiefly at those things which are 
unseen and eternal, while the latter is solely careful for those that 
are seen, and temporal. The Christian walks by faith. The world- 
ling lives by sight. The secret of Enoch's walking with God, 
was his faith. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see 
death, and was not found because God had translated him ; for before 
his translation he had this testimony thai he pleased God. But without 
faith it is impossible to please him, Heb. xi. 56. 

The man who thus walks with Grod by faith has his eyes 
opened to see spiritual things, especially God's character and his 
own, and all his actions and course of life correspond with just 
views of God's attributes. 

1. He is filled with a deep sense of the sinfulness of his own 
heart and life before God. The declarations of the sacred Scrip- 
tures in reference to the natural character of man, are inexpres- 
sibly painful and humiliating. To be told that in us there is no 
good thing — to join with David in his confession, Behold I was 
shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me, Ps. li. 5 ; 
to be so filled with a sense of sin, as to abhor ourselves and re- 
pent in dust and ashes, as Job did, xlii. 6 ; to see and feel that 
sin reigns in our mortal bodies, and that the pure eye of God 
which looks into our most secret thoughts, sees nothing there that 
is holy ; nothing which can deserve his favor ; — oh, this is hard. 
This is the reason why repentance is such bitter work to most 
men. We like not to think of ourselves, as meanly as the word 
of God describes us to be, and as enlightened and impartial expe- 
rience shows we are. We like not to view God's justice and 
holiness as utterly arrayed against us, and to feel that as long as 
God remains what he is, we must either change, or perish for- 
ever. But this is not all. We might be willing to change, and 
thus secure the favor of God, could we do it in our own strength, 
and thus secure to ourselves a part at least of the credit of such a 
change. But the word of God, and our own experience, which 
combine to show us the depth of our sin, as distinctly inform us 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



71 



that our own strength, is not sufficient. They tell us, that we are 
dead in trespasses and in sins, Eph. ii. 1 ; and can the dead raise 
themselves ? Could Lazarus in his grave have said, I will now 
arise and go forth, if the Son of God had not stood and called, 
Lazarus, come forth f No. Our own righteousness is very dear 
unto us. We are loath to give up all dependence upon our 
own good works. It is hard to renounce all self-dependence, 
and to trust our guilty souls upon the sovereign mercy of God 
above. The first question of the convinced sinner always is, 
What shall I do to he saved? With what price shall I purchase my 
deliverance ? Men will stand and hesitate long before they will 
so humble themselves as to accept of a free pardon. Nay, they 
will go back and look down into the abysses of the bottomless 
pit, ere they will consent to enter on that strait and narrow 
way, which can be entered only by him who comes divested of 
every earthly load, and casts his naked soul before the Saviour 
to be clothed upon with his righteousness. No natural man will 
ever say with the apostle Paul, Yea doubtless, and I count all 
things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my 
Lord: for whom L have suffered, the loss of all things, and do count 
them but dung that L may win Christ, and be found in him, not 
having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is 
through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of Cod by faith, 
Phil. iii. 8, 9. 

But when the heart is enlightened by divine grace, we shall 
thus look upon our own character, and acknowledge our own in- 
ability to save ourselves. And is there no other way of escape ? 
Must we lie down in sorrow, because our own right hand cannot 
deliver us ? Oh no ! He who thus looks upon himself, will 
not be long in seeing that there is a way of escape. Despairing 
of help in himself, and yet impressed with the absolute necessity 
of fleeing from the wrath to come, he will look unto him who is 
mighty to save. His eyes being opened by the mercy of God, he 
will look unto Christ, and beholding in him a Saviour, every 
way suited to his wants, he will receive and rest upon him alone 
for salvation. It is a great thing to see Christ. The very sight 
of the brazen serpent on the pole restored the serpent-bitten Is- 
raelites, and a correct view of Christ crucified for sin melts the 
most hardened heart, overcomes all its objections to the gospel, 
removes all its fears of the wrath of God, and gives us full assur- 
ance of his everlasting love. Henceforth there will be no trust- 



72 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



ing in self-righteousness — no vain attempts to add to the finished 
work of Christ. 

Such are the preliminary steps to a walk with God on earth. 
There is a vast variety in the experiences of Christians, as to the 
ways in which they are led unto Christ. But no man is ever 
savingly converted to God, who is not made to know the plague 
of his own heart, 1 Kings viii. 38 ; who has not felt his own utter 
helplessness, and submitted his soul unreservedly and uncon- 
ditionally into the hands of Christ. 

2. These steps being taken, what is the after-course of such a 
beginning? What is there in the life of him who walks with God, 
to distinguish him from other men ? If the professed Christian 
be sincere in his profession, there will be much in his outward 
deportment to distinguish him from the mass of those around 
him ; but in a country where outward morality and good order 
are fashionable, we must look to the heart to find the chief differ- 
ence. The heart of the Christian if opened to the gaze of men, 
would present a strange spectacle. There would be seen in it a 
constant struggle, between the Spirit of God on the one hand, and 
the power of sin on the other. Sin reigns in the mortal bodies 
of all men. Commonly it does not exert all its vigor ; but when 
occasions offer, or efforts are made to cast it out, it is found to 
have implanted its roots deep in every affection of the heart, 
while its virulent poison brings desolation on the soul. The 
ivages of sin is death. When the Spirit of God comes into the 
heart, inducing a man to walk with God, there must of course be 
a contest between our natural sinfulness and newly acquired prin- 
ciples of holiness. It is in vain to ask, why God does not at once 
make his people perfect in holiness, and free them from every 
remnant of sin ? It would be easy to answer these questions, did 
time permit, but it is not necessary. It is sufficient for the present 
to remark that he has not seen best to do so. lie wishes to let 
his people know experimentally, somewhat of the power of that 
enemy from which he delivers them, and hence it is that the con- 
test between sin and holiness in the heart of the man of God is 
often so long and painful. Yet the world, even his most intimate 
friends, may know little or nothing of what passes in the secret 
chambers of his own breast. It is only by a slow and lingering 
death that the power of sin is destroyed in the heart. It is com- 
pared to crucifixion, a most painful and lingering form of violent 
death. They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affec- 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



73 



turns and lusts. Gal. v. 24. The heart must be diligently watched ; 
the emotions of sin must be suppressed ; pride must be mortified ; 
selfishness cast out ; impurity utterly forbidden ; and everything 
that exalteth itself against God be cast clown. But why spend 
words in describing that which the pen of inspiration has already 
so distinctly drawn. In the sixth and seventh chapters of the 
Epistle to the Eomans, which I recommend to jom: special atten- 
tion, is a full account of all that is needful to be known on this 
subject, illustrated and confirmed by the experience of the apostle 
Paul himself. 

3. Furthermore. The man who walks with God, while thus 
seeking to mortify sin in his heart, is also earnestly desirous to 
be made perfectly holy. He hungers and thirsts after righteous- 
ness ; he earnestly desires to present his heart as a pure offering 
to the Lord of hosts ; and he labors to render his life conform- 
able to the profession he has made. He humbles himself before 
God, Mic. vi. 8. He engages in his worship with hearty desires 
to honor him, and to experience his favor. He so regulates his 
life, as that nothing may appear in it displeasing to the Master he 
serves. He endeavors to bring others also to an acquaintance 
with God. Enoch and Noah, who walked with God, were 
preachers of righteousness ; and every Christian, in his sphere, 
will endeavor to teach men the truth. If his mouth is closed, 
his example, at least, will testify to the excellence of the principles 
by which he professes to be actuated. He will walk in peace 
and equity, Mai. ii. 6, and do good to all men as he has oppor- 
tunity. Far from living for himself alone, he will remember the 
words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to 
■receive, Acts xx. 35. He will love all men, he will pray for all 
men, he will do good unto all men, as far as he has opportunity. 
Nor will all these be done merely for a time, nor by occasional 
efforts. It will be a settled principle with him. He will perse- 
vere in the way of holiness, even to the end of life. Opposition 
he will expect to meet, from within and without, — from men and 
from evil spirits. But he will go forward, notwithstanding all. 
Not in his own strength, not in reliance upon his own power, not 
with the spirit of boasting, but looking unto Christ, through 
whom he can do all things, in whom is all his strength, and to 
whom he renders all the praise for all the good he is enabled to 
do, and for every success that crowns his efforts, and cheers him 
on his way. Such is the heart ; and such is the life of him who 



74 



WALKING WITH GOD. 



walks with God. The path in which he must walk, who walks 
with God on earth, is a rough and thorny one. Even Christ 
pleased not himself, and how should his followers expect more 
than their Master enjoyed. Yet surely it is a glorious thing thus 
to walk, in intimate and friendly intercourse with the King of 
kings. Surely it is no common honor to be called, as Abraham 
was, the friend of God, James ii, 27. 

What manner of men should such be ? Do you profess to 
walk with God ? Is your heart, then, right before him ? Does 
your life correspond with such a profession ? Do you act in no 
respect differently from what you would, if you felt that God were 
by your side, when you go out, and when you come in ? Is it 
now a pleasant thought to you, that he sees your inmost heart, 
hears every word of your tongues, and weighs every action you 
perform ? Is it your daily care to shape your conduct as not to 
displease that holy God, before whom you walk? Eemember 
that you cannot escape from his presence, and if you walk not 
with him as a friend, you must walk before him as an enemy, 
for among men he recognizes but two classes — those who are for 
him ; and those who are against him. It is therefore yours to see 
and know whether you be on the Lord's side or not ; and surely 
it should not be hard to know where you stand. We judge of a 
man by his associates. If you walk with the wise, you will be 
wise. If you walk with the bountiful, how can you be covetous ? 
If with the compassionate, how be cruel ? If with the holy, how 
can you delight in sin ? 

Judge, then, your own selves, and see to it that ye walk after 
the Lord our God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and 
obey his voice, and serve him, and cleave unto him, Deut. xiii. 4. 

Macao, July 16, 1843. 



SERMON" X. 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH, 
I am a stranger in the earth. — Psalm cxix. 19. 

Such is the memorable confession of David, the king and 
sweet psalmist of Israel. To some, it may appear strange, for 
there was apparently nothing in the latter part of his course that 
called for such an acknowledgment. It is true that in his early 
life he was a wanderer, driven to and fro, by the malice of Saul, 
as a leaf is tossed by the winds, and hunted like a partridge in 
the mountains : but in the latter part of his life, everything about 
him was as settled and home-like as could well be imagined. He 
was in his own country, and that country enjoyed peace and 
prosperity. He was among his relatives and friends, and they 
were many and powerful. He was in his own house. He was 
kine over his own countrv, with everything; that could make a 
throne desirable. His right to the throne was clear and undis- 
puted, for the anointing oil of God was upon his head ; the peo- 
ple heartily consented to his authority, and loved and reverenced 
him. He was honored at home, and respected and feared abroad. 
Distant nations sought his alliance ; and under his reign, Israel 
saw its greatest extension and highest prosperity. He reigned 
securely on his throne, and was assured that his descendants after 
him should sit upon it : and that, in the course of time, the 
promised and long-expected Messiah should be numbered among 
his posterity. What more could he want to satisfy him ? Why 
should he not quietly seat himself on his throne, and enjoy the 
luxuries around him? Yet, as far as we know, he never con- 
sidered himself at home in this world. His constant declaration 
was, I am a stranger in the earth. The statutes of God were his 
songs in the house of his pilgrimage, Ps. cxix. 19, 54. In his prayers 
to God, he said, / am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all 



76 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



my fathers were ; hide not thy face from my tears, Ps. xxxix. 12 ; 
and in his grateful praises and thanksgivings, near the close of 
a long life, his confession still was, We are strangers before thee, and 
sojourners, as were all our fathers : our days on the earth are as a 
shadow, and there is none abiding. 1 Chron. xxix. 15. It is won- 
derful how prone men are to think this world their home, and to 
sit down, as if they were to abide here forever. A greater, and 
vet a more common mistake, cannot well be imagined, nor one 
whose consequences are likely to prove more disastrous. Let 
me show you, both from Scripture and from the nature of the 
case, that this is not your rest; that you are strangers here, and 
that, therefore, it is } T our duty to live as strangers and pilgrims 
in the earth, seeking and pressing forward to a better, and an 
enduring inheritance. 

1. The Scriptures are full of striking representations of the 
shortness and uncertainty of life. It is often compared to a dream. 
A dream may seem long while it is passing, yet it is philosophi- 
cally certain nothing is more fleeting and transitory, and nothing 
seems so short when we look back upon it. Life is compared to 
a vapor. You have seen the morning mist, as it slowly curled 
around the mountain's brow, and, even while you gazed upon it, 
the sun's rays had caused it to vanish. Such is life. It is com- 
pared to the grass. In the morning, it groweth up and flourisheth, — 
in the evening, it is cut down, and withereth. It is like the flower 
of the field, that spreads its bright leaves to the morning air; but 
the noon-day sun withers them, and the night breeze scatters them, 
or the caterpillar feeds on them, the worm devours them, and the 
blight destroys them. Life is also oftentimes compared to a jour- 
ney, and men to travellers. 

This is especially remarkable in the cases of the venerable 
Hebrew patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet at first 
sight one would not be inclined to regard them as strangers in 
the earth. They were men of very great wealth and influence, 
and probably few private men could now be found in any coun- 
try who could equal them in these respects. Thus of Abraham 
it is said, Jehovah blessed, him greaily, and he became greoi ; having 
flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and men servants, and maid 
servants, and camels, and asses, Gen. xxiv. 35. The extent of his 
possessions may be inferred from the number of servants born in 
his own house, whom he was able to lead forth to the rescue of 
his brother Lot. There were no less than three hundred and 



I AM A STRANGER IIST THE EARTH. 



77 



eighteen ; and as these could hardly be more than one fifth of the 
whole number he possessed, he must have been the master of 
twelve, or fifteen hundred servants, Gen. xiv. 14. And as the 
chief occupation of these servants was to attend to their master's 
cattle, it may well be conceived that the number of his flocks and 
herds must have been immense ; so that we need not wonder 
when we are told that the land was not able to hear them, Gen. xiii. 
6. Nor need we wonder therefore to find that Abraham was a 
man of so much power and influence that even the kings of 
Sodom and Gerar sought his favor, and formed treaties with him, 
Gen. xxi. 22. Of Isaac, too, it is recorded that his wealth and in- 
fluence were very great. The Lord blessed him, and he tuaxed 
great, and ivent forward ; and grew until he became very great For 
he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of 
servants, Gen. xxvi. 13, 14. Such was his wealth and power, 
that the Philistines envied him, and Abimilech, then king, at length 
said to him, Go from us, for thou art much mightier than ive, Gen. 
xxvi. 14, 16. Jacob, too, was a man of great possessions, for he 
increased exceedingly, and hod much cattle, and maid-servants, and 
men-servants, and camels and asses, Gen. xxx. 43. 

With so much wealth — with so much influence — with such 
certain promises, so solemnly confirmed to them, that that land 
should be the perpetual inheritance of their children, one would 
have thought that they would feel at home there. Yet it was 
not so. They felt and confessed themselves still to be but 
strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 

It was a touching scene when the venerable Abraham came 
to Hebron, to mourn for Sarah. He stood up from before his 
dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger 
and sojourner with you; give me a possession of a burying place with 
you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight, Gen. xxiii. 2-4. The 
only landed estate that he ever possessed in the land of Palestine 
was a grave — though the whole land was solemnly promised him 
for an everlasting possession. 

To Isaac, God gave the command, Sojourn in this land, Gen. 
xxvi. 3. Or as it might be more literally rendered, Be a stranger in 
this land ; and this command he carefully obeyed, while Jacob, 
who was always a wanderer, in Padan Aram, Palestine, and 
Egypt, near the close of his life, speaks of it as a painful pilgrim- 
age. The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and 
thirty years ; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, 



78 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



and have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers 
in the days of their pilgrimage, xlvii. 9. It was this constant ac- 
knowledgment of their being strangers and pilgrims, which in- 
duced the apostle to speak of them as he does in the Epistle to 
the Hebrews. By faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, 
as in a strange country, divelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, 
the heirs ivith him of the same promise. For he looked for a city that 
hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. These all died in 
the faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar 
off, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pil- 
grims on the earth, Heb. xi. 9-13. 

ISTor are these solitary examples. Moses, who was learned in 
all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and who, for aught we know, 
might have sat upon the Egyptian throne, if he had so chosen, 
was a wanderer for the greater part of his life, choosing rather to 
suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of 
sin for a season. And in testimony of his willing choice of such 
a life, he named his eldest son Gershom, saying, / have been a 
stranger in a strange land, Ex. xxv. 22. 

Leaving the times of the Old Testament, and coming down to 
those of the New, we find the same truth set forth with equal 
plainness, both in example and precept. Our blessed Saviour 
himself, the Lord of all, was but a stranger in the earth, while the 
meanest of the creatures he had made, had their homes. While 
the foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, the Son of man 
had not ivhere to lay his head, Luke ix. 58. His holy apostles had 
no certain dicelling-place. The early Christians lived as those 
who looked above this world ; and the books of the ISTew Testa- 
ment are full of instructions exhorting earnestly to such a course. 
The apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, after highly praising 
the ancient patriarchs, who had acknowledged that they were 
strangers and pilgrims in the earth, says in reference to Chris- 
tians of his own time, Here ive have no continuing city, but we seek 
one to come, Heb. xiii. 14. Therefore it is, that he tells believers 
in another epistle, Your conversation or citizenship (noktrslci), is in 
heaven, Phil. hi. 20. The first epistle of Peter, which was in- 
tended for Christians generally, is addressed to the strangers scat- 
tered about in different countries. And in the same epistle he ex- 
horts them to pass the time of their sojourning here in fear, i. 17. 
And again, he beseeches them, as strangers and pilgrims, to abstain 
from fleshly lusts, vjhich war against the soul, ii. 11. Thus doth the 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



79 



Scripture both by precept and example, teach us to look upon 
this world, merely as a stage in our road to another. 

2. As the Scriptures are thus explicit in teaching us to look be- 
yond this world, regarding it merely as a place of pilgrimage ; so 
we shall find if we consider the circumstances in which we are 
placed, that we are but strangers here. For what is it to be a 
stranger ? Is not a stranger one of whom it is said, he has no 
suitable abode or home in the land of his sojournings ; and the 
lime he thus spends is but short compared with that he spends 
at home ? And is it not true with reference to ourselves, that we 
have no suitable home in this world ? 

Since sin and death have entered our world, it is most mani- 
fest that this is not our home. I am not one of those who look 
upon this world as only one great prison-house — where no sound 
is heard but that of weeping — no sights are seen but those of sor- 
row. On the contrary, blasted as it has been by the poisoned 
breath of Satan, still it has scenes of surpassing beauty ; still has 
it places that seem almost like the gates of heaven. But yet 
when every allowance is made, it is not a place of rest ; and, man 
is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Man that is born of a 
woman is of few clays, and full of trouble, Job xiv. 1. Consider 
how much suffering all men are called to endure. Who is there 
that has not felt the pangs of disappointment ? You have looked 
for pleasure, and found sorrow ; you have laid your plans for life, 
and been forced to abandon them, for entirely different pursuits. 
You have plucked the rose, but, alas, the flower fell as you 
grasped it, and the thorn alone remained. You have delighted 
in the society of kind friends, and they have died before your 
faces, and you have buried them out of your sight. 

" Friend after friend departs, 
Who hath not lost a friend ? 
There is no union here of hearts, 
That finds not here an end." 

Or if they have not been removed by death, their affection for 
you has grown cold, and you have experienced a pain that death 
could not have inflicted upon you, by finding that those in whom 
your hearts safely trusted, have proved false to you. How many 
unexpected misfortunes come upon men! Who is secure from 
them ? You may pass years and years in uninterrupted prosperity, 
and in the moment when you least expect it, all your joys shall 



80 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



take wings and fly away, and you shall be left desolate. I well 
remember the morning of a sabbath-day, when I stood upon the 
deck of a noble ship, as she ploughed her foaming way across the 
waters of the China sea. I was conversing with the chief officer, 
and can recall even now, the tone of exultation with which he 
said, that he counted himself one of the most fortunate of all 
those who did business upon the great waters. He had been a 
sailor from his childhood, and never met with an accident, and 
his prospects never were brighter than they were at that moment. 
Twelve hours had not elapsed, when that gallant ship was fast 
sinking beneath the raging waves. She had struck upon a sunken 
rock, and filled with water so rapidly that all on board were 
obliged to leave her and seek for safety in her boats. That offi- 
cer left the ship with only the clothes upon his back, and after 
traversing over four hundred miles of the open sea, in that little 
boat, he was overtaken by a storm, and in sight of land his boat 
was overturned, and himself dashed against the rocky shore. 
Bruised and almost senseless, he gained the land, and found that 
of his five companions, four had been drowned, and that he was 
a penniless, homeless man — a stranger in a strange land. Would 
that this were a solitary case ! How much suffering and misery, 
also arises from the errors even of the good ! A single fault may 
cause heart-breaking sorrow for a whole lifetime. Surely, a world 
where such events can happen, never was intended for the home 
of happjr beings. 

3. But even if there were no actual suffering, this world as it 
now is, was not intended for our home, because it has nothing that 
can satisfy the ever expanding desires of the immortal mind. The 
soul of man was made for eternity, and it cannot be, that it should- 
be satisfied with the desires of time. Most men seek for wealth, 
but who is ever satisfied with the greatest amount of gold and sil- 
ver ? Are not those who have the most, constantly grasping after 
more, and at the same time anxious and alarmed lest they should 
lose what they have already acquired ? Others seek after honor 
and power, but who is ever satisfied with the highest honor, or 
the greatest power? When is ambition full? When do conquerors 
cease from conquest, if death do not end their course. Others 
again seek after literary fame, but who is even satisfied here ? 
Look at the gifted Byron, who with talent and rank, and wealth 
and fame, to satisfy the desires of a hundred common men, still 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



81 



longed and pined for more. " Beyond desire, beyond ambition 
full," he yet died in utter wretchedness ! 

Who is there that is satisfied in this world? Not one. And 
if men had the most ardent desire of their hearts gratified, and 
were allowed to live here forever, they would still find in their 
breasts an aching void, which the world could never fill. Ask 
him who of all men was best qualified to judge — Solomon, king 
of Israel, who had wealth, and honor, and power, and ease, and 
wisdom, such as no man either before or since has ever possessed. 
He made it his business to seek after happiness, for what can the 
man do that cometh after the king ? You have heard his mem- 
orable conclusion. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of 
vanities : all is vanity. All is vanity and vexation of spirit. Again 
I ask, are we not strangers in such a world as this ? 

If this world were our home, our final resting-place, it would 
be a sad world indeed. Even short as our life is, it is too long 
for manjr, and our ears are almost daily pained with accounts of 
those who lay violent hands upon themselves, and rush uncalled 
into the presence of their God. Even those who enjoy the greatest 
amount of happiness here, will almost wish at times to die. And 
Paul who counted it an unspeakable privilege, a grace of which 
he was not worthy to preach Christ on earth, was often in a strait 
between two conflicting emotions, having a desire to depart, and 
be with Christ. All experience as well as Scripture testifies aloud, 
This is not your rest. We may go to and fro, seeking rest, but as 
Noah's dove found no place of rest for the sole of her foot, when 
the wild waves of the deluge covered the earth, so do our hearts 
find no rest, where the troubled billows of sin dash so thickly 
around. 

4. Another characteristic that distinguishes a stranger, is, that 
his sojourn in the place where he is a stranger is but short. It 
needs no labored or lengthened proof to show that in this respect 
we are strangers in the earth. For what is your life ? It is even 
a vapor, which quickly vanisheth away. In childhood and youth, life 
in anticipation looks long. As we grow older and look back, how 
short. Yes, and the older we grow, the shorter it seems. An 
old man will recount the tales of his boyhood, and tells you that 
it seems but as yesterday, when he looks back to events in the 
lives of his friends, over whose tombs the grass of many years is 
growing. The antediluvians numbered their years by centuries, 
but they are gone, and their works have followed them, and to us 

6 



82 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



it is as if they never had a being. The patriarch who numbered 
more than six-score years, said that his days had been few as well 
as evil, and Moses, when five-score years had whitened his locks, 
declared, we spend our years as a tale that is told. It is soon cut off 
and we fly away. Yes, fly away, for there is none abiding here, 
and our days make haste to depart. The afflicted patriarch too, 
in the midst of his long life, had reason to say, My days are swifter 
than a post, they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away 
as the swift ships : as the eagle that hasteth to the prey, Job ix. 25. 
It is even so. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full 
of trouble. Our afflictions may be hard to bear, but they are but 
for a moment. The end of all things is at hand. The Judge standeth 
at the door. And there is not one of us, who may not say with 
David, There is but a step between me and death. I have seen the 
old oak fall, and the little flower that sprung up beneath its shade, 
crushed by its fall. So have I seen the patriarch of three-score 
years and ten, and the infant of a few days, buried in the same 
grave, and when a few years had passed away, it seemed as though 
the life of one, were almost as long as that of the other. 

Who is there that finds life long enough to accomplish all the 
plans he has in view ? One man seeks to accumulate a certain 
amount of wealth. Another, to reach a certain point in power. 
A third, to see his children comfortably settled in life. A fourth, 
to get himself a name, yet three of the four shall die before their 
desires are half accomplished. Some men fill stations of eminent 
usefulness in the church, and in the state, and length of days for 
them seems greatly desirable, yet they fade away, apparently, 
before the half of their work is done. Is this our home f Is a 
world, whatever its other sources of enjoyment may be, whejg 
such sorrows come upon us, and such disappointments embarrass 
us, the place where we are to build us mansions for eternity ? Oh 
no ! Scripture and reason, and sad experience teach us that here 
we have no continuing city, no suitable home, no happy, quiet place 
of rest. We are strangers in the earth. As one who feels himself 
to be a stranger in the earth, suffer me to address you, and to 
apply practically the truth I have been endeavoring to illustrate. 

1. Do not unnecessarily encumber yourselves with earthly 
things and cares. You are a stranger here. You are rapidly passing 
through this world, and you can carry none of its treasures away 
with you. Why should you, then, set your hearts upon them, 
and give all your time, and strength, and affections, to those 



I AM A STEAN'GER IN THE EARTH. 



S3 



tilings, that perish even with the using of them ? Why set your 
hearts on those things that will only retard your progress, and in 
the end be of no avail to you ? Why load yourselves with that 
which will but weary you in your course, and, in all probability, 
cause vou bitter regret in the end ? What should you think of 
the man. who. when running for his life, should stop and loiter 
by the way, picking flowers, and gathering stones, and loading 
himself with thick clay ? 

2. I would not recommend a casting away of all the good things 
of this world, nor blame one for seeking to better his condition 
here. But it is wrong to seek earthly things as of the first and 
chief importance, neglecting those that are unseen and heavenly. 
While you seek after this world's goods, set your affections on 
those things that are above, and if you are disappointed here, you 
will not be there. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his right- 
eousness: all other things -needful shall he added unto you, 

3. As you are but travellers through this world, act as travellers 
do. You must not expect always to find pleasant roads, nor the 
accommodations of home at the wayside inns. You must look 
for bad weather, and be prepared for rough times. Neither must 
you expect always to find the most pleasant fellow-travellers, nor 
always to enjoy the society of those whom you most admire. It 
is true, you are all bound to the same place, — but you take dif- 
ferent roads, and some are longer, some shorter in arriving. 
Some may finish their journey before the sun is up ; some when 
his full rays are beating down upon them ; while others, again, 
may travel on, till the shades of evening gather thickly around 
them. Those who started with a crowd, may end their journey 
alone. But grieve not for this. If you have taken the right 
course, and are seeking the right place, you shall all meet at last, 
and. amidst the delights of home, you may recount with joy the 
dangers and the trials, or the pleasures of the way by which you 
have been led. Look upon the discomforts which you find, then, 
as the necessary inconveniences of a traveller's life. Let not your 
hearts be disquieted for them. They will soon be over, and their 
remembrance shall hereafter afford you pleasure. The traveller, 
after his fatiguing journeys, the sailor, in his quiet harbor, after 
his shipwrecks and toils are safely passed, delights to recount the 
incidents he has seen, and the dangers he has encountered. So 
may you, when safely lodged in your everlasting mansions. The 
troubles and trials you may encounter, should be looked upon as 



84 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



real blesings. If your course, in this life, led you always through 
the " plain of ease," you would be almost loth to depart. These 
afflictions are needful, to wean your affections from the world, 
and quicken you in your heavenward course. Who is there that 
cannot testify that he has served God better, and longed for 
heaven more, when outward things looked dark, and storms 
raged around him, than when all was smooth, and peaceful, and 
serene ? 

4. But here a question of infinite importance arises. You are 
strangers here, and travellers to another place. Where, then, is 
your home ? Whither are you bound ? You are going hence, 
and it is most certain that you never shall return. Where, then, 
do you expect to make your permanent abode? Do you not 
know whither you are bound ? You know you cannot remain 
here. You know there are but two other worlds to which you 
can go, — and have you not yet found out to which your course 
is directed ? 

As I take it for granted that you wish to reach a better world 
than this, allow me to tell you, that there is but one road by 
which you can do it, and that, while the life of your soul depends 
upon your finding that road, and walking in it, wherever it may 
lead you, it is yet exceedingly difficult to enter, and hard to pur- 
sue. How strait is the gate, how narrow is the way, that leadeth 
unto life. How few there be that find it ! On the other hand, 
there are many wrong roads, broad and smooth, and easily 
entered, with many by-paths and cross-roads, that are easily mis- 
taken for the true one, and all of which are crowded by multi- 
tudes of travellers. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that 
leadeth unto death : many there be vjhich go in thereat. You have 
need, therefore, of a chart of your way, to show you which is the 
right, and which the wrong road. You have need of a compass, 
to direct you in your course, and especially you need a guide and 
defender, who can lead you, and keep you in all the way which 
you go, and bring you in safety to the end of your journey. All 
these, however, can be obtained. The word of God is such a 
chart. It distinctly points out the right road, and so clearly lays 
down every other, that you cannot mistake them. Therefore it 
was that David prayed, I am a stranger in the earth ; hide not thy 
commandments from me. And again he says, Thy statutes have 
been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. Study carefully, 
therefore, the word of God ; and with faith in your heart, which, 



I AM A STRANGER IN THE EARTH. 



85 



like a compass, ever points to heaven, you will not go astray. 
For a guide and defender, you have the Lord Jesus Christ him- 
self. He has trod the way before you, and knows every step, — 
for he was, in all points, tempted like as we are, though without sin. 
That road he watered with his own blood, and, through the 
merits of his sufferings and death, he removed its otherwise im- 
passable difficulties, and now, whosoever will, may come unto 
God by him. Study his character ; imitate his example ; walk 
in his footsteps ; learn of him, and he will bring you in safety to 
the end of your course, and present you with exceeding joy in 
the presence of his Father. 

5. Keep the end of your journey in mind, and suffer your 
thoughts often to dwell upon the glories of the home that God 
has prepared for those who persevere in the right ways. This 
will quicken your steps, and cheer your hearts, when fainting 
under the discouragements and weariness of the way. Why 
should you not do so ? A child, away from home, will think 
with tears of his father's house ; and should you be forgetful of 
the mansions prepared for you ? The last part of your course 
may be difficult, for it may lead you through a deep and dark 
river, "over which there is no bridge;" but if you think as you 
ought of the habitations beyond that river, it will make you will- 
ing to go through even those dark rolling waves. Your citizenship 
is in heaven — your best friends are there — your treasures are 
there — your everlasting rest and happiness are there. Meditate 
upon these things, therefore, and you will even long to depart. 

But while in your pilgrimage below, remember that you 
have a very great work to do, and that now is your only time 
for accomplishing it. Now is the day of salvation, when you 
must secure the welfare of your soul. Now is the time for glori- 
fying God ; now is the time for bringing others to a knowledge 
of himself. There is no work or service in the grave, to which 
you are hastening. Be diligent, therefore, and work while your 
journey continues, and you will have time enough to rest when 
your journey is ended. 

Macao, July 23, 1843. 



SERMON XL 



COMING UNTO CHRIST FOR REST. 

Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take 
my yoke upon you and learn of me : for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye 
shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. — 
Matthew xi. 28-30. 

It is related of Luther, before lie had entered on his course 
as a Eeformer, that every time he heard the name of Christ, he 
turned pale with terror ; for he had been represented to him only 
as an angry judge.* 

It is strange that any one who has ever heard one word of 
Christ, could thus represent him. Every attribute of the God- 
head was found in perfection in him, but some were more fully 
drawn out than others, by the circumstances in which he was 
placed. He is a God of holiness, and one might have supposed 
that surrounded as he was by sinful men, constantly endeavoring 
to blacken his character, and to thwart his purposes, the threat- 
enings of wrath would be ever on his lips. But he is also a God 
long-suffering and compassionate, and surrounded as he was by 
objects of misery, though all unconscious themselves of their 
condition, his heart melted over their sorrows, and he proved 
himself a merciful and faithful High Priest, who could be touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities. 

It is delightful to contemplate his course through life. He 
went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed with the 
devil, Acts x. 34. One after another, as objects of distress pre- 
sented themselves before him, his heart was moved by sympathy 
for them. A leper covered with sores, and cast out from society, 
with the weeds of mourning around him, came and knelt before 
him, and Jesus moved with compassion put forth his hand and touched 

*D'Aubigne, i. 123. 



COMING UNTO CHRIST FOR REST. 



87 



him, and cleansed him from his leprosy, Mark i. 4. He saw the 
widow of Nain, as she followed her only son to the grave. It 
needed no words to inform him of the sorrows and desolation of 
her heart. When the Lord saw her he had compassion on her and 
said unto her, Weep not, Luke vii. 13. With a word he restored 
the young man to life, and delivered him unto his mother. With 
the sisters of Lazarus, he wept at Lazarus' grave, but with the 
compassion and power which Christ alone possessed, he raised 
him from the dead. When did he ever forbear to relieve any 
that came to him ? When did he send any away ? And how 
kindly were his favors given ! Men wondered at his gracious 
words. Little children loved to be with him, for he took them in 
his arms and blessed them. 

It is true that our Saviour at times spoke in anger. It could 
not be otherwise. And we read that expression, which conveys 
such a weight of terrible meaning, the ivrath of the Lamb, Eev. 
vi. 16. Yet even his wrath was mingled with mercy, and his 
threatenings ended in tears. You have seen the clouds gather 
blackness, and listened to the thunder's voice, as it rolled and re- 
echoed through the vaults of heaven. Yet the blackness passed 
away, and the gentle showers came down upon the earth. Even 
so it was when our Lord uttered those awful woes against the 
wicked rulers of the Jews. Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees 
— hypocrites — ye shall receive the greater damnation. How can ye 
escape the damnation of hell? Yet in the same discourse his heart 
melted for the city of God, and in grief he exclaimed, Oh Jeru- 
salem ! Jerusalem ! how often would L have gathered thy children 
together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye ivould 
not, Matt, xxiii. 

Nor was his love exhausted in words. It showed itself in all 
the actions of his life, and more especially in his last great work 
— his death upon the cross for the sins of men. This is the person 
who utters the words of our text. His character gives him a claim 
to be heard, — his works for us give him a right to be obeyed. 

The persons addressed are all men. He uses one of the few 
terms that will apply to all the sons of Adam. He does not say, 
Ye rich and noble, come unto me, for all are not rich and noble. 
Neither does he say, Ye poor and degraded, come unto me, for all 
are not poor and degraded. But, Come unto me all ye that labor 
and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Who is there, not 
included in these terms ? Who is there that has no sorrows or 



88 



COMING UNTO CHRIST FOR REST. 



burdens ? That is not troubled with griefs and fears ? That has 
no causes of disquietude ? Happy man ! if such there be. But 
think again. Is it not true that man is born to trouble as the sparks 
fly upwards f Job v. 7. Is it not true that all his days are sorrows, 
and his travail grief f yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night, Ecc. 
ii. 23. The occasions of sorrow are various. Wherever happi- 
ness is sought for, sorrow is found lurking. Eiches take to them- 
selves wings and fly away. Man being in honor abideth not. 
Learning wears a man down; Fame exposes him to envy and 
detraction ; Friendships are dissolved by separation or by death. 
ISTo state or age is free from care and anxiety. Men talk of the 
joys and happiness of childhood, — but surely that is an unobserv- 
ant look, which does not discern in the contentions and jealousies 
and tears of childhood, the first fruits of the curse, In sorrow 
shall thou eat all the days of thy life, Gen. iii. 17. 

It should however be noted, that outward sorrows are but a 
small part of those that make up the lot of man. If there were 
peace and quietness in the heart, it would make but little difference 
if things around were unpleasant. The storms that agitate the 
sea, extend only a few feet below its surface ; and the inhabitants 
of its inner depths are not disturbed by the commotions above. 
But it is not so with man. The heart knoweth its own bitterness, 
and the joyous laugh is often assumed merely to cover up and 
conceal the deep sea of suffering beneath. There is in the breast 
of every man an evil heart. It is full of sin, and delights in sin; 
but in the nature of things it is not possible to follow sin without 
also tasting its bitterness. Conscience, the vicegerent of God, 
has its station in the heart. You may deaden its tones. You 
may for awhile silence its voice, but destroy it you cannot. Sooner 
or later its voice must be heard, and when it speaks of death, and 
righteousness, of sin, and the judgment-day, of heaven, and of 
hell, you will find that earthly joys and earthly hopes will not 
ease the mind. It is only by forgetting such things that most 
men wear the semblance of happiness. Hence, many seek to 
banish thought. This were wise, if thereby misery also were 
banished. But it is not the part of wisdom thus to act. I appeal 
to your own hearts, are not these things so ? Have you not often 
found sorrow where you sought for joy ? Have you not feared 
the thought of standing in the presence of God ? Has not your 
own heart often condemned you ? Do you not fear to die ? 

He who sees all hearts knows what is in man. He has fath- 



COMING UNTO CHRIST FOR REST. 



89 



omed the deep sea of human sufferings and fears. He came to 
share their woes, and to relieve their sorrows ; and his heart often 
melted at the sights he saw. He was a man of sorrows, but not 
for his own sorrows. He saw men laboring in the service of sin 
and Satan, — pressed down by a cruel yoke, — driven by a hard 
master, — serving for his wages, — and such wages ! True, he offers 
fair, and they knew not that the wages of sin is death. The Sa- 
viour saw us heavy laden with sorrows, and staggering under a 
load that was carrying us down to the bottomless pit ; and he saw 
that there was no help for us in ourselves, — none in our fellow- 
men, — and none even in the holy angels who saw us perishing. 
Strong then in the might of his own divinity, with compassion like 
a God, he came down for our relief ; and with a heart overflowing 
with love to us, he calls to every weary, heavy-laden, desponding 
soul, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will 
give you rest. 

Hear then the words of Christ. Come unto me. This implies 
that naturally you are far off from him. Else, why the necessity 
of coming ? He is the fountain of life, and the giver of every 
good ; but we keep away from him, nor yield our hearts to his 
control. What is the consequence ? Away from the sun, how 
can you have light ? Away from the fire, how can you be 
warmed ? Away from the source of life, how can you live ? 
And why thus separated from him ? Has he driven you away ? 
Has he dealt unkindly by you ? Has he ever said seek ye my face 
in vain f No ! "We have chosen to depart. We have said in 
our hearts, This man shall not reign over us. We have said by 
our deeds, if not by our words, Depart from us, we desire not the 
knowledge of thy ways. This is the first thing needful for us to 
know, to wit, our distance from him, and the sorrowful conse- 
quences attending it. When the prodigal son had almost starved 
himself among the swine, his first thought on coming to his right 
mind was, that he had voluntarily but most foolishly and wick- 
edly left his father's house, and though as yet no invitation from 
his father had reached him, he resolved to return to him and seek 
a place even among the servants. 

Like the prodigal you and I have gone astray. Like him we 
have wasted our substance. Like him we have sinfully neglected 
the service of the best of fathers. Like him, we are in danger of 
perishing among the vile pleasures of this world, and its empty 
promises, while there is enough and to spare of soul-satisfying 



90 



COMING UNTO CHEIST FOR REST. 



joys and eternal blessings in the house of God. Why should 
this be so ? Though we have thus acted, though the Saviour 
might most justly leave all to perish in our own misery, yet he 
does not so. He follows, entreats, urges you to return. He sees 
and pities the miseries present and to come of his creatures. You 
may affect to laugh, but his heart yearns over you, and it seems 
as though he could not give you up. What more could be done 
than he has done for you ? Ye are poor, and though he was rich, 
yet for your sokes he mode himself poor, that ye through his poverty 
might become rich. You are in danger of perishing in sin, like the 
serpent-bitten Israelites. He was lifted upon the cross that you 
might see, and be drawn unto him. You are dying, and to save 
you from death, he dies himself, and asks you to come unto him, 
and obtain the life he has to offer. Why should you not return ? 
Like erring children who fear the sight of their father's face you 
hesitate to see him again. 

Perhaps you are ready to say, " We wish to return, we have 
long sought to do so, but know not the way, and hitherto have 
not succeeded/' But how have you sought? Where have you 
looked for direction ? Where sought for the strength and wis- 
dom needful for such a return ? There is but one way of return 
to God, and if you have not walked in that way, in vain will you 
hope ever to see his face. That way is the way Christ has point- 
ed out in the words of the text. Come unto me. Take my yoke 
upon you. Learn of me. These three things are the way-marks 
of that road. First. Knowing and grieving over your natural 
distance from God, you must come unto him. Secondly. You 
must take his yoke upon you. By his yoke is meant that which 
connects you to him, and binds you to his service. It includes 
therefore a separation from the world, for you cannot serve Christ 
and the world. It includes an utter renunciation of all self- 
righteousness, as a ground of hope before God. Your own right- 
eousness and the righteousness of Christ cannot be patched to- 
gether to make a garment, wherewith to appear in his presence. 
The laws of the ancient temple did not allow the priests to min- 
ister in robes woven of linen and of wool. Nor do the laws of 
the spiritual temple of which Christ is the chief corner-stone, al- 
low the worshippers to appear clothed in any other garment, than 
that of Christ's righteousness. Your justification and acceptance 
before God is obtained by simple faith alone ; and the sincerity 
of your faith is to be shown by your deep and hearty repentance 



COMIXG UXTO CHRIST FOR REST. 



91 



of past errors and sins, and your persevering and universal obe- 
dience to all his commands. This is the third thing requisite. 
Learn of me. Study the character of Christ as exhibited from 
his life to his death. This is the great thing to be known. 
Imitate his example, especially in his meekness and humility. 
Learn of me, for I am meek and loidy of heart. It is a strange 
command this, to our fallen nature, and one most opposite to 
all our natural feelings. It is a hard thing to make our stubborn 
wills submit to the will of God, and humbly and cheerfully to 
bow before him. Yet surely it becomes us in the presence of our 
holy and absolute sovereign to veil all the pride of human wis- 
dom and human greatness, and to behave as weaned children be- 
fore him. Who are we, that presume to lift up ourselves in the 
presence of our judge ? Who are we that we should refuse to 
bear his yoke ? Surely too the example of Christ, if there were 
no other motives, should teach us humility. How is it possible 
for frail and sinful man to behold the Lord of Glory in the form 
of a servant, — washing the disciples' feet, and submitting to the 
malefactor's death, — and still retain high thoughts of himself ? 
ISo, my brethren, let this mind be in you tuhich was also in Christ 
Jesus ; and remember that unless you become as little children, you 
shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

The invitation of Christ, come unto me, is not a mere command. 
It calls you to a course of life in some respects painful, and in 
many ways opposite to the natural course of your thoughts. He 
does not conceal from you the fact, that if you come to him, you 
must renounce your fancied independence, and take up a yoke, 
and a burden, and engage in a service, that shall end only with 
life. But consider a moment before you refuse to listen to his 
call. What condition in life is free from similar or harder terms. 
Man was not made to be independent. With all our boastings 
of our greatness and glory, there is not a creature in the wide 
world so dependent, so helpless as ourselves. You must lean on 
others, even on a bruised reed, if no other support presents it- 
self. Independence is not sacrificed by taking the yoke of Christ, 
for man has no such, independence to give up. By taking his 
yoke you only exchange your dependence on creatures like your- 
selves, for dependence upon the living God. And is it not a no- 
ble exchange ? By bearing his burden, you exchange the ser- 
vice of Satan and the world, for that of Christ ; and is it not an 
object worthy of desire, to serve such a master ? The honor of 



92 



COMING UNTO CHEIST FOR REST. 



being his servants alone were sufficient, but the rewards he offers 
are such as to make his service incomparably the most desirable 
in the universe. 

You are now serving a hard master, and what do you gain by 
it ? A few fleeting, transitory pleasures, marred by the fear of 
future sorrows ; a few sweet draughts, dashed with the bitter 
drops that conscience infuses in them ; a few delusive hopes for 
the future, which but thinly cover the awful realities beyond. 
You are toiling and laboring after this world's happiness, and if 
you gained it, what would you gain ? What shall it profit a man 
if lie gain the whole world and lose his ovm soul? But what have 
yougained ? Are all the pleasures of this world which you have 
already enjoyed, a sufficient compensation for the anxiety, and 
watching, and toil by which you have obtained them ? Could 
you consent to live forever, laboring as you have done, if you 
never expected to enjoy more of the fruits of your labor than you 
have hitherto done ? Hear then the words of Christ. Come unto 
Trie all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I ivill give you rest. 
What is so delightful as rest after labor ? The soldier delights 
to sit down in security when the battle is over, and enjoy the 
fruits of his valor. The sailor, to rest in the quiet harbor when 
the tempest is over, and enjoy the reward of his watchings and 
toils. Heaven itself is called a Rest, Heb. iv. 9. And what a 
rest ! No more painful watchings, or labors. No more sorrows, 
no more sicknesses, nor separations. No wearisome calms, nor 
fearful storms, for there is no sea there. No doubts or fears, no 
dealings with the wicked. Job sought for rest in the grave, 
where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest / but 
Christ promises rest in heaven to all who come unto him — a rest, 
too, that is freely given. / will give you rest. It is acquired by 
the life-blood of Christ, but it is given to his people without 
money, and without price. They may toil and labor here, and 
endure suffering and sorrows, but this only makes the thought of 
rest more delightful. " Oh !" said Eobert Hall in the midst of 
his long and excruciating sufferings, " I can form no more glo- 
rious idea of heaven, than that it is a place of rest." And yet it 
is not merely a place of rest from labor and suffering ; it is also a 
place of most delightful and unwearying activity in the love and 
service of Grod. Hence the remark of Wilberforce was equally 
correct with that of Hall, when he said that the happiness of 
heaven appeared to him to consist in the constant activity of the 



COMING UNTO CHRIST FOR REST. 



93 



soul in loving and serving Grod, without the incumbrances of the 
flesh, or the clogs of sin. 

But the rest of the Christian is not all in anticipation. He is 
called to sacrifices and privations, and self-denial here ; but in the 
midst of them all he enjoys that which more than compensates 
for them. It was no paradox, but the words of truth and sober- 
ness that our Saviour uttered when he said, Verily I say unto you, 
There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, 
or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive mani- 
fold more in this present time, and in the world to come everlasting 
life, Luke xviii. 29, 80. To be engaged in the service of God, 
and to march under his banner, rather than under that of Satan, 
is itself a glorious thing. To be allowed to hope, without pre- 
sumption, for the happiness of his chosen people above, is worth 
far more than many present inconveniences ; and to enjoy the 
sense of his favor here, and feel the sustaining influences of his 
grace, together with freedom from all apprehensions of future 
evil, surely these things make his yoke an easy yoke, his burden 
a light burden. What man of the world can say, as Dr. Watts often 
said, "I bless God that though for many years I have never lain 
down at night without feeling that I might be called to eternity 
before morning, yet it has never caused me a moment's uneasiness ! " 
The peace of mind, and well-grounded confidence that will thus 
enable every one to look death in the face, and calmly consider 
all that lies beyond the grave, is not of this world's gift. But it 
is one of those things included in the promise of our Saviour to 
all who come unto him. Ye shall find rest unto your souls. 

Macao, July 30, 1843. 



SERMON XII. 



MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN GENESIS. 

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her 

seed : it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. — Gen. hi. 15. 
Blessed be the Lord God of Shem. God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in 

the tents of Shem.— Gen. ix. 26, 27. 
In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars 

of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore ; and thy seed shall 

possess the gate of his enemies ; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth 

be blessed. — Gen. xxii. 17, 18. 
I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed 

all these countries ; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. — 

Gen. xxvi. 4. 

Thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth ; and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, 
and to the east, and to the north, and to the south ; and in thee and in thy seed 
shall all the families of the earth be blessed. — Gen. xxviii 14. 

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until 
Shiloh come : and unto him shall the gathering of the people (nations) be. — 
Gen. xlix. 10. 

Those accustomed to the full revelations of the New Testa- 
ment, find it difficult to conceive the real feelings of believers in 
ancient times, or to understand their views of the way of salva- 
tion. They knew that a Saviour was to come. They earnestly 
expected him, and their anxiety for his appearance was shown in 
the term by which they commonly designated him, He that should 
come, as though there were but one person whose coming were of 
supreme importance. Art thou he that should come, said John to 
the Saviour, or do we look for another f 

The light which they had concerning him was but faint, com- 
pared to that which we enjoy — but they were not totally destitute. 
A man can see enough to save his life at times, by the taper's ray, 
or the glimmering of the stars, even though he have not the sun's 
full light; and the predictions concerning Christ, made to the an- 
cient believers, though far less distinct than the revelations we 
possess, were yet so clear as to afford satisfactory information con- 



MESSIANIC PKOPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



95 



cerning him, on whom all their hopes depended. It will be in- 
teresting and profitable to consider the successive predictions 
respecting Christ, made in the patriarchal times, from Adam till 
the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. In this long period 
of two thousand five hundred years, we find men constantly de- 
parting farther and farther from the truth as taught to our first 
parents ; and yet the farther they departed, the more clearly did 
the voice of (rod, in prophecy, call their attention to the Saviour 
of sinners, in due time to be revealed. Several prophecies con- 
cerning him were given during this period, each one brighter and 
clearer than the one before, and each one pointing with infallible 
certainty to that on which the salvation of a world depended — 
Christ, and him crucified. 

There was gloom and sadness in the world upon the fall of our 
first parents. Adam could have known nothing of forgiving 
mercy. Before his fall he had known God, as a God of love, but 
he also knew him as a God of justice. He had as yet heard no 
promises of mercy to the guilty ; but he had heard the threatening, 
In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. It is worthy of 
note also, that Adam's views of the heinousness of sin were much 
deeper than ours now are. Fancy to yourselves, that one of the 
holy inhabitants of heaven, surrounded by myriads of holy beings 
in that place where sin had never been heard of, and with the 
pure eye of God upon him, should suddenly commit a single sin. 
With what feelings would those around gaze upon him ? What 
sensations would fill his own breast, as he met their indignant 
eyes, and felt too that he stood in the presence of that God who 
is of purer eyes than to behold evil ? Would he not flee away 
from the scene which he had been the first to defile with sin, and 
hide himself if possible where no eye should ever see him again ? 
Such, to some extent, must have been the feeling of Adam and 
his wife, when they awoke to the consciousness of what they had 
done, and their eyes were opened to see, that not merely were 
their bodies naked but their souls were exposed without shield 
or shelter to the avenging justice of an insulted, and a holy God. 
What hope could they have ? No wonder they hid themselves 
when they heard the voice of the Lord God in the garden. They 
expected only death — and the first interrogations of the Lord 
would only increase their alarm. Adam, where art thou f Hast 
thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst 
not eat thereof? Stripped of every plea, and naked, our first 



96 



MESSIAOTC PKOPHECIES IN" GENESIS. 



parents stood before their judge. The examination was short, 
for their own hearts condemned them, and they were now ex- 
amined by that God who was greater than their hearts. Doubt- 
less, their hearts beat with fear, when they heard the curse de- 
nounced against the serpent. Because thou hast done this, cursed 
art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field upon thy 
belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. If 
such a curse be denounced against an irrational animal, which 
was but the instrument of an evil spirit for evil, what did they 
deserve, who free to stand, had yet suffered themselves to fall ? 
who possessing powers sufficient to sustain their innocency, had 
chosen to believe and obey Satan rather than God ? But behold, 
even out of the thick gloom, a light arises ; and before all the 
curse upon the serpent, and the devil who had used him for his 
instrument, had been pronounced, hope had sprung up in their 
breasts. The very curse against the serpent gave them reason to 
hope that blessings were still in store for them. I will put enmity 
between thee and tlie ivoman : and between thy seed and her seed: it 
shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 

By the seed of the woman, we understand the children of God 
in all ages ; but especially does it refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, 
who without any human father was born of a virgin — and in 
whom all the people of God find their strength and support in 
every conflict. By the serpent and his seed, we understand the 
devil, the arch enemy of our race, and all those among men, who 
are not the children of God. They are those to whom our 
Saviour said, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your 
father ye will do, John xviii. 44. The words of the text there- 
fore are a prediction of a contest, long and painful, between the 
righteous and the wicked, and especially between Satan and 
Christ. For a time the contest might appear doubtful, but in the 
end, a vital injury shall be inflicted on the serpent and his seed. 
His head shall be bruised; while on the contrary, the injury in- 
flicted on Christ and his followers, though painful for a time, 
shall yet be as insignificant and harmless as a bruise upon the 
heel. 

It is not intended, at present, to enter into a full discussion 
of this and the subsequent prophecies. It requires but a slight 
examination, however, to see how exactly it is fulfilled in the 
sufferings and death of the Saviour of the world. Against him, 
did that old serpent, the devil, array all the powers of earth and hell. 



MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN GENESIS. 97 

With ceaseless malice, lie persecuted him from his cradle to the 
grave. He raised against him the jealousy of Herod, the scorn 
of the Sadducees, the bitter hatred of the Pharisees, the shouts of 
the unthinking crowd, and the potent power of the Eoman sword. 
Not satisfied to raise up enemies from without, he sought even to 
pollute the holy soul of Christ by his temptations, and when that 
failed, he stirred up one of his own disciples to betray him, 
another to deny him, and all of them to forsake him and flee. 
He thought, for a time, that his triumph was complete, when the 
lifeless body of Christ was laid in the tomb, and the Eoman 
guard watched the sealed sepulchre. But the seed of the woman 
was greater than all of Satan's power, and the wound he received, 
though apparently mortal, proved to be slight and harmless ; for 
by death, he overcame him that had the power of death. The 
rocky tomb had no power to retain the Prince of life, and, 
when he rose from the dead, he inflicted a wound on the head of 
Satan, from which there is no recovery. So it is with the cause 
of Christ on earth. The decisive battle has been fought, and the 
chief victory gained ; but the contest is not yet ended. To an 
uninitiated eye, it seems to be carried on with unabated vigor, 
and the seed of the woman often appears to suffer loss. But the 
experience of the past, as well as the sure word of prophecy, 
abundantly testifies that these reverses are but seeming. They 
are but bruises of the heel ; for a while they seem to retard the 
progress of the sufferer, but they do not take away his strength, 
nor prevent his dealing such strokes upon the adversary, as show 
that the battle is not to him that seems most strong. Christianity 
has met with reverses even in our own clays, and some of our 
strongholds seem almost abandoned ; but an impartial survey 
will testify, that at no time since the creation of the world was 
the true religion more widely diffused than it is at this moment ; 
and at no time, if we except, perhaps, the first few years after the 
ascension of Christ, were its means of conquest, or prospects of 
final victory greater than they now are. The contest, it is true, 
is not yet ended. Nay, it may be that a period of deeper 
gloom and sorer trial than has ever yet befallen the church of 
God, is still to come, and must be passed through. But be it so. 
It will be but the last struggle of the almost vanquished enmity 
of the serpent. It will be followed by a complete victory ; for, 
to use the language of the apostle, the God of peace shall bruise 

7 



98 



MESSIANIC PEOPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



Satan under your feet shortly, Kom. xvi. 20; and the seed of the 
woman shall reign over the nations of the earth. 

Such is the meaning of the first prophecy in the Bible. It 
has well been called, the Protevangelium, or first preaching of the 
gospel on earth. In its comprehensive grasp, it contains, in 
miniature, the life of Christ on earth — the history of every indi- 
vidual believer, from the beginning to the end of time — together 
with the outlines of the history of every church, in every land — 
and of the whole church militant on earth. I do not mean that 
it appeared thus clear and distinct to Adam and Eve. They 
could not understand it as fully as we may, who can compare 
scripture with scripture, and judge of the meaning of prophecy 
from other parts of revelation, and from its glorious fulfilment. 
All our first parents could gather from it, was the fact of final 
deliverance ; but when, or how, or by whom, they could not tell. 
But it was a glorious thing to have even such a hope. They 
were not obliged to lie down in sorrow, for the promise sounded 
sweetly in their ears, amidst all the pains and sorrows of their 
fallen condition ; the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's 
head. Doubtless, this promise formed a watchword for believers 
during the ages before the flood ; but when, at that great catas- 
trophe, the human race was swept away, and but a single family 
remained, the wavering faith of man required its renewal. It 
was renewed to Noah, and from his three sons, one was selected, 
from among whose descendants the great deliverance was to 
come. In Gen. ix. 26, 27, the blessing of Noah upon his sons 
is recorded. Blessed he the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall 
he his servant. God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the 
tents of Shem. It was not without intention, that Noah calls God 
the God of Shem. Inspired by the spirit of prophecy, he foresaw 
that from among the posterity of his second son, Shem, the hope 
of the world should arise. Nor should the blessing be confined 
to those among whom it first appears. The sun rises in the east, 
but his rays illumine the world. The Lord God was to be in a 
peculiar manner the God of Shem, but he should also enlarge 
Japhet, and the church should be increased from among his 
descendants. It has been so. The Saviour of the world was a 
descendant of Shem, and at the present time the largest portion 
of the Christian church is found among the posterity of Japhet, 
who are uoav fast occupying and ruling over all the seats of 



MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



99 



But Shem had many sons, and the faith of the ancient be- 
lievers needed some more definite information, than the mere 
announcement that from among them the Lord -would provide 
salvation. Out of his sons therefore, God chose one, to be the 
depositary of his great promises, and the keeper of the truth till 
the time appointed. To Abraham and his seed Were the promises 
made. TTe have now a promise and prophecy, made to Abra- 
ham, — confirmed to Isaac, — and repeated to Jacob. In thee and 
in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. By the seed 
of Abraham, according to the apostle's testimony, we are to under- 
stand chiefly, the Lord Jesus Christ — to thy seed which is Christ, 
Gal. iii. 16. The blessings spoken of, of which all the families 
of the earth were to partake, are both temporal and spiritual. 
The civilization of the nations of ancient and modern times is 
more to be attributed to the influence of the Israelites, than to 
any other cause. It is almost certain that the art of writing 
came first from the Hebrews, and was transmitted from them 
through the Phenicians to the Greeks and Eomans. 

But it was chiefly the unspeakable gift of salvation for the 
soul, that was meant, in the promise, In thee shall all the nations 
of the earth be blessed. However important and desirable the arts 
of civilized life, and the enjoyments of intellectual pursuits, they 
are not to be compared with the welfare of the soul, — its freedom 
from the claims of the law, — and its happiness in heaven. 

The promise here referred to was still indefinite. It did not 
distinctly define to the ancient church, who their deliverer was to 
be. It is probable that to some members of that church clearer 
revelations were made than to the mass of believers. Abraham 
probably knew much more of Christ, than did those around 
him, who heard only the promise of which we are speaking. 
Christ expressly says Abraham rejoiced to see my day and he saw it 
and was glad, John viii. 56. It may have been when he was in 
the mount, about to offer up his beloved Isaac, that revelations 
w r ere made to him, not vouchsafed to others. 

Still the promise was a glorious one. The selection of a par- 
ticular family, showed that God had not altered his purposes of 
mere}'. It was a beacon of hope to the lost — a lighthouse on 
the world's wide ocean — and its clear light and cheering beams 
would enliven many a heart that looked for deliverance in 
Israel. 

Nor was it long before a prediction more clear and decided 



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MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



still was given. Abraham was dead, and Isaac was dead, and 
Jacob felt the hour of his dissolution near. He sent for his sons, 
the fathers of the future tribes of Israel, and told to each what 
should befall them in the latter days. The xlix. chapter of 
Genesis contains the record of what his eye saw when it looked 
into the unveiled depths of futurity. In the midst of his predic- 
tions of the prosperity of Judah, he utters a prophecy, whose 
clearness and beauty finds scarcely a parallel in Holy Writ. The 
sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his 
feet, till jShiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people 
be, Gen. xlix. 10. It is easy to see that this is but one of the 
links of that chain of prophecy whose preceding parts we have 
already considered. It refers to the same great event. Here you 
have first the time of the expected deliverer ; secondly, his charac- 
ter ; thirdly, his success. As to the time, it was to be when the 
sceptre was departing from J udah ; and the power of her lawgivers 
vanishing away. Look through the long line of ages for nearly 
seventeen hundred years after this prophecy was uttered, and 
amidst all the changes in the history of Israel, you will find that the 
tribe of Judah still retained the pre-eminence. Even after the coun- 
try became a Eoman province, Judea was governed by the rulers 
who ruled over it before it was conquered by the Eomans. But 
in the very year when Archelaus was removed by the Eomans, 
and a Eoman appointed as the governor of Judea, — when the 
sceptre had finally departed from Judea, never to return, in that 
very year did Christ first appear as the appointed and expected 
Deliverer. He was but twelve years old when he was found in 
the temple, in the midst of the Doctors, both hearing them, and 
asking them questions ; in that year the sceptre departed from 
Judah, and it was needful that he should be about his Father's 
business. 

His character corresponded with the descriptions of the pro- 
phecy, with equal exactness. He is there denominated Shiloh, a 
word denoting peace, or peaceful. You may remember that Isaiah 
calls him the Prince of Peace, and that the apostle calls him our 
Peace. Well does he deserve to bear such a title. It has ever 
been the great object of Satan to produce enmity between God 
and man, and too well has he succeeded. But the object of the 
coming of Christ, was to make peace between God and man; 
and this he did, by the sacrifice of himself upon the cross. 
Thereby he also made peace between man and man, and laid the 



MESSIANIC PKOPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



101 



foundations of lasting peace in each man's own conscience. 
Therefore it was, when he appeared, that the angels sang, Glory to 
God in the highest: on earth peace and good-will to men, Luke ii. 14. 
Therefore it was that our Saviour said as he departed out of the 
world, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, John xiv. 
27. Therefore it was that the apostle said of him, He is our peace, 
who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of 
partition between us, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, so 
making peace, Eph. ii. 14, 15, 

The latter part of the prediction is still in process of fulfil- 
ment. To him shall the gathering of the nations be. Many nations 
have been gathered to him, and we have seen enough in our own 
times, to assure us, that our faith in the complete fulfilment of 
this promise, shall not be in vain. He who has watched the pro- 
gress of gospel truth as it enlightened the minds of the Northern 
Greenlander, and the Southern Hottentot, — of the North Ameri- 
can Indian, and Tahitian Islander, will be slow to believe that 
any nation will finally resist its power. Already is Ethiopia 
stretching out her hands unto God. Already do careful ob- 
servers note, that the hoary superstitions of India, are trembling 
on their time-marked foundations. The contest in China may 
be longer, for it is as yet just begun. But to him shall the 
gathering of the nations be, Behold, these shall come from far ; and 
lo, these from the north and from the west', and these from the land of 
Sinim, Is. xlix. 12. 

Such is a cursory review of the prophecies concerning Christ, 
in the book of Genesis. After the fall of Adam, midnight gloom 
and darkness covered the world. You have watched the sky in 
a stormy night. You have seen the hour of deepest gloom, and 
have marked the gradual dispersion of the clouds. A faint star 
dimly glimmers amidst the fleeting vapors, — then another shines 
with steadier lustre — by degrees, a whole constellation shines 
forth, and, even while you looked, the morning star arose, and 
proclaimed the approach of day. It was thus in the first revela- 
tions of mercy to our race. The promise, that the seed of the 
woman should bruise the serpent's head, was cheering, but still 
indistinct. The selection of Shem, and especially of Abraham, 
and Isaac, and Jacob, made the purposes of God more and more 
clear ; but the dying words of Israel, seemed almost to usher in 
the day. These prophecies prepared the way for the Levitical 



102 



MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



dispensation, with its clearer light, its frequent allusions to 
Christ, and its fuller revelations. 

We judge, at times, of the greatness and importance of events, 
by the preparations that precede them. Were you to see a host 
of men assembled on some mountain's top, and anxiously looking 
towards the east ; were you to see, further on, another body of 
men, preparing a highway among the mountains ; were you to 
see, still beyond them, scouts placed in commanding positions, 
prepared to light the beacon fires, while all the population of the 
surrounding districts were in a state of heightened expectation, 
would you not suppose that some more than ordinarily interest- 
ing event was about to occur ? Apply this comparison to the 
coming of Christ, and the religion he came to establish. What 
mean these varied preparations? Why this array of altars, and 
priests, and sacrifices ? Why this long train of prophecy, com- 
mencing almost at the creation, and mnning on for near four 
thousand years, and all pointing to one common object ? Why 
this expectation of the coming of some great one, — at first con- 
fined to a single nation, but gradually extending itself, until, as it 
were, the whole world stood in expectation to behold his arrival ? 
There was reason for all this. The greatest event the earth ever 
saw, was about to occur, — the Lord of glory was about to appear 
in human form, and the work he came to accomplish was one in 
which all men are most deeply and personally interested. His 
mission was a mission of life or of death to every individual of 
our race, and therefore men eagerly expected his arrival. He 
has come. He has finished his work. He has bruised the ser- 
pent's head, and he has called the sons of Japhet to dwell in the 
tents of Shem. A Prince of peace, already nations have been 
gathered to him ; the sceptre has long since departed from Judah, 
but in him already hath the nations of the earth been blessed. 
In his name, we offer salvation to every man who hears the 
sound of the gospel. As his minister, I assure you, that whoso- 
ever comes unto him shall in no wise be cast out ; and I solemnly, 
and with authority, declare unto }^ou, that there is salvation in no 
other. 

Let me, then, ask you — or rather, I would have you, seriously 
ask yourselves — have you sought and found salvation in him ? 
The salvation he has procured is precisely suited to the wants of 
each individual before me. It is offered for your acceptance or 



MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN GENESIS. 



103 



rejection. Yet I should not say, "for your rejection." If you 
do not accept of it, if you do' not heartily embrace it, to the ex- 
clusion of every other hope, then it is the same as though you 
had rejected. How shall you escape, if you neglect this so great sal- 
vation ? 

Macao, Aug. 6, 1843. 



SERMON XIII. 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. and they shall call 
his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is, God with us. — Mat. i. 23. 

The custom of giving significant names to their children, was 
one that prevailed in the Jewish nation from the earliest period 
of its history. The reasons which dictated the choice of the 
several names given to children, were, of course, very different. 
Sometimes they were given by the parents, to signify their grati- 
tude for favors received, as when Leah called one of her sons 
Judah, ot praise, saying, Now will I praise the Lord, Gen. xxix. 35. 
Sometimes they were given to express their faith in God for the 
bestowment of future blessings. Thus Eachel called the name 
of her first-born son Joseph, or adding, saying, as she gave the 
name, The Lord shall add to me another son, Gen. xxx. 24. Some- 
times names were given to commemorate some remarkable event 
in a man's history, or to denote some distinguishing trait in his 
character. Thus Jacob's name was changed, after his wrestling 
with the angel, to Israel, & prince of God. For as a prince hast thou 
power with God, and hast prevailed, Gen. xxxii. 28. 

It would be an interesting occupation to pursue this subject 
much farther, and to trace the various evidences of the gratitude, 
or faith, or zeal of Hebrew parents, expressed in the names given 
to their children, but at present it is unnecessary. It is sufficient 
to remark, that a custom, so universal, would not probably be 
omitted in the case of one so long foretold, and of whom such 
great things were expected, as of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the 
world. "We naturally, therefore, feel much curiosity to know 
both the names, and the meaning of the names, given to him. 
The name in the text is one that seems to call for special notice, 
both from the person who foretold it, and the person who explains 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



105 



it, as well as from the surpassing dignity and excellence of Him 
who bears it, Emmanuel! Thus the inspired prophet, more than 
seven hundred years before his birth, predicts that he shall be 
called. God with us ! Thus the inspired evangelist, recording the 
fulfilment of the prophecy, interprets the name. 

There seem to be two great truths intended to be taught by 
this name. The first is that he who bears it, is a Being very far 
superior to the generality of those who are born upon the earth. 
God ivith us ! There is a majesty in this name, especially when 
we compare it with other divine declarations concerning the per- 
son thus called, which induces us to say, that he was no common 
man, but that in some mysterious way, the divine and human na- 
tures were united in his one person. He is God, and yet man. 
Infinitely exalted above us, and yet partaking of our nature. 
Before all things, yet born in the latter days. An object of wor- 
ship to all angels, yet appearing in the form of a servant. He is 
truly God with us. 

That the same being should possess both the divine and hu- 
man natures in one person ; that he should be both God and 
man, is a doctrine almost too wonderful for belief. It is so far 
above the comprehension of our limited minds, that we cannot 
grasp it ; and he who has never been astonished, when the 
thought rose upon his mind, " the infinite and eternal God, veiled 
for a time his glory and dwelt among men, in human form," has 
never justly apprehended the truth we speak of. How can it be • 
otherwise than astonishing? Look at these bodies of ours. 
Consider their feebleness and imperfections. Consider their 
weaknesses, how we are tied down to the narrow limits of this 
world, and fatigued by efforts to traverse even a small portion of 
its' surface. Then lift your eyes to the starry firmament above, 
and when your wearied imagination returns confounded from the 
effort to count the number of those worlds, so far beyond our 
reach, think, " The God that made all those worlds, and at whose 
feet they lie, like/ golden sands, took our nature upon him, and 
bore about a body like our own !" It is hardly wonderful, when 
these thoughts press upon the mind, that some have even doubted 
whether this could be so. It seems too great a condescension for 
such a being to descend so low. Certain it is, we never should 
dare to entertain such a thought, without the strongest authority 
for it. But if we have the word of that very being himself assur- 
ing us that this doctrine is true, then it is not the part either of 



106 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



reason, or modesty, much less of religion, to doubt it. It is then 
our duty to make reason bow before that which rises above her 
comprehension, and suffer faith to rest upon that which our 
Maker reveals. 

"What saith the Scripture on this point ? — for it is the word of 
God alone that can decide it. Without quoting the tenth part 
of the passages in the Bible which refer to this subject, let me re- 
fer you to the declaration of Isaiah. To us a child is born, to us a 
son is given ; and the government shall be upon his shoulders ; and 
his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the 
everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Is. ix. 6. To the same ef- 
fect speaks the apostle John, This is the true God and eternal life, 
1 John v. 20. Still more clearly does the apostle Paul give us 
his testimonjr, Who, being in the form of God, thought it no robbery 
to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took 
upon him the form of a servant, arid was made in the likeness of men, 
and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became 
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Phil. ii. 6-8. But 
clear as these declarations are, they are not more clear than the 
words of Christ himself. Standing in the presence of those who 
were ever ready to accuse him, and to work his ruin, and who 
were peculiarly sensitive on the doctrine of the infinite superior- 
ity of their God to all other beings, he said, I and my Father are 
one, John x. 30. And on another occasion, though he knew that 
# his hearers would be immediately reminded of the name that God 
had expressly appropriated to himself, / am that I am, Ex. iii. 14, 
he declared in the most emphatic manner, Verily, verily, I say unto 
you, before Abraham was, I am, John viii. 58. 

The same truth is also distinctly shown by his actions. Fol- 
low him on that memorable day, when, after taking our infirmi- 
ties and healing our sicknesses, after instructing the people, and 
relieving their distresses till nature was exhausted, he entered into 
a ship to go to other places. Behold there arose a great tempest, 
insomuch that the ship ivas covered with the waves. Where now was 
Jesus? Asleep, in the hinder part of the ship ! Does this Be- 
ing, overcome with fatigue, and needing the repose of sleep, like 
other men, possess powers such as other men do not ? His disci- 
ples came to him and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us, we perish ! 
And he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there ivas a 
great calm, Matt. viii. 23-26. As man he was overcome with fa- 
tigue — as God he ruled the raging elements. 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



107 



Follow Mm in another of his journej^s. He comes to the well 
of Jacob, at Samaria. Being wearied with his journey, he sat thus 
on the well A woman came to the well, with whom he enters 
into conversation, and in that conversation tells her even the 
thoughts of her own heart, and the past actions of her life. In 
her astonishment she exclaims, Come see a man that told me all 
that ever I did: is not this the Christ? John iv. In that wearied 
being who sat upon the well, we recognize one who partakes of 
our own feeble nature, — but in his searching of that woman's 
heart, and declaring to her all that ever she did, we behold une- 
quivocal proofs of that Being who alone searches the heart and tries 
the reins of the children of men, Jer. xvii. 10. It is God's preroga- 
tive to search the heait, and the volume that is concealed from 
all created eyes, and often scarcely read even by its owner, is 
naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom ice have to do, Heb. 
v. 12, for there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight. 
Follow him once again to the grave of Lazarus, and as you see 
him weeping over the tomb of the friend he loved, you must ac- 
knowledge that human sj^mpathies beat in that affectionate 
bosom. But when he calls, Lazarus, come forth, and the dead 
man hears his voice, and obeys, we bow in solemn reverence at 
the presence of him who has the keys of hell and of death, Rev. i. 18, 
to ichom belong the issues from death, Ps. lxviii. 20, who alone kills, 
and makes alive, Deut. xxxii. 39. Well therefore does a being of 
whom these things are true, bear the name Emmanuel — God 

WITH US. 

2. The doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, however, though 
very distinctly referred to in the name Emmanuel, is not the 
only thing which it was intended to teach. That doctrine lies at 
the foundation of all the instruction and consolation we may 
derive from the name, — but the principal truth which we are 
taught by it, and the one to which I wish to call your special 
attention, is this, that Jesus Christ is with his people, in a peculiar 
manner for their good. Believing as we do that Jesus Christ is 
God, he is of course everywhere, and is present with all his 
creatures. Exercising the providential government of the w r orld, 
he feeds and clothes them all, and directs all their movements, 
and therefore in a general sense, all men may say, that Christ is 
with them. But this is not what is taught by the name Emman- 
uel. There is a special way in which he is present with those 
who are redeemed by him, and I request your attention to some 



108 EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 

further remarks, on the manner in which, and the reasons for 
which this presence of Christ with his people is shown. 

1. Christ is present with his people in the dispensations of 
Providence. As God he is everywhere, and his general provi- 
dence extends to all his creatures without exception. But this is 
not all that the Scriptures teach respecting the Providence of 
God. We are expressly informed that Jesus Christ exercises the 
providential government of the world, not only in virtue of his 
divine nature, but also in virtue of his office as mediator between 
God and man. After he had finished the work of redemption, 
All power in heaven and earth was given unto him, Matt, xxviii. 18, 
and he was constituted head over all things to the church, Eph. i. 22, 
i. e. for the benefit of the church. Exalted thus, far above all 
principality and power and might and dominion, and every name 
that is named, not only in this world, but in the ivorld to come, 
Eph. i. 21, and with all things under his feet, he has a special care 
over his church, and directs all events with reference to her. 
Thus everything shall ivorh together for good to them that love God, 
Eom. viii. 28. It is this which gives us our confidence in the 
safety of his people, and the ultimate triumph of true religion in 
our world. He who for his people's sake, once suffered the loss 
of all things, now rules over all things by a double right, and it 
cannot be supposed, that he will not direct those things for his 
people's good. The outward appearance of things may often- 
times be dark. I need not say they may be so — they will be 
so, for he himself has so informed us. The enemies of our holy 
religion at times may triumph in our supposed defeat, and our 
own hearts may sink in despondency at the disappointment of 
fondly cherished hopes. But this arises from our own want of 
faith, and because we cannot see the end from the beginning. 
Could we but look beyond second causes and see the operations 
of the Providence of God, we should find that all these apparently 
disastrous events, are still under his control. It cannot be other- 
wise. There is not an event that occurs, however great, or how- 
ever small, be it the rise of an empire or the fall of a sparrow — • 
there is not an evil counsel of the enemies of the church, or even 
of Satan himself, that is not seen by the eye, and controlled by 
the hand of Emmanuel. Good shall come out of evil therefore, 
and light out of darkness. And while this is true of the church 
generally, it is true of each member of that church— for he who 
in the agonies of a world's redemption could care for a mother's 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



109 



support, John xix. 26, 27, — amidst the cares (though they are no 
cares to him) of the church's preservation, will not forget the 
wants of the meanest of his followers. Scorn and contempt may 
cover you here, — but he who said, Whosoever shall do the will of 
my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and 
mother, Matt. xii. 50, — is not forgetful of that relationship, now 
when seated on his high and glorious throne ; and in the best 
way, and at the most proper season, will he exert his authority 
for your- deliverance and support. As long therefore as the 
Christian can say, that his Saviour's name is Emmanuel, he may 
join with the Psalmist in singing the Lord reigneth. Let the earth 
rejoice, the nations may rage, but he is secure, and shall laugh at 
all their efforts, and malice. 

2. Christ is also present with his people by the influences of 
his Holy Spirit. If there is anything that distinguishes the Chris- 
tian dispensation, from the Jewish and the Patriarchal, and that 
marks its superiority above all other forms of religion, it is that 
part of it which refers to the operations of the Holy Spirit. True, 
there is commonly but little known, or said even in the church 
itself, concerning the Spirit, but it is the shame of the church 
that such is the case. Before the coming of Christ, but little was 
revealed, and therefore but little was known concerning the nature 
or the operations of the Spirit. His influences were, indeed, 
felt, for without them there could be no church, — but compared 
with their greater diffusion, after the crucifixion of our Lord, 
they are almost overlooked. It is even said, The Spirit was not 
given because Christ was not glorified, John vii. 39. But after his 
resurrection the Spirit was given, and great signs and wonders 
immediately followed. His first coming was distinguished by 
wonderful gifts, the speaking with tongues, the healing of dis- 
eases, the raising of the dead, and various other supernatural 
operations. But along with these, and far superior to them in 
importance, as well as in permanence were those other operations 
of the Spirit, which continue to our time, and shall last to the 
end of the world. These are those secret and mysterious influ- 
ences which come over the souls of men, arousing them to con- 
cern for their spiritual welfare ; awakening them to a sense of 
the danger of their natural condition; and of their sinfulness 
before God; leading them away from all confidence in them- 
selves, to an humble and unreserved trust in Christ alone, for 
salvation ; showing them his excellency ; opening their minds to 



110 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



a right understanding of the Holy Scriptures ; causing them to 
mortify sin, and to seek after holiness ; sustaining them in trials ; 
strengthening them against temptations ; fitting them for useful- 
ness, and finally bringing them safe into the heavenly kingdom 
prepared for those that truly love God. All these things worketh 
that one, and the self-same Spirit, 1 Cor. xii. 11. Now the doctrine 
of the Scriptures is, that these influences, so precious, so indis- 
pensable to our salvation, are procured for us only by the death 
of Christ, and made available and continued to us only by his all- 
prevalent intercession. The influences of the Spirit are purchased 
for us by the agonies Christ endured upon the cross, they are 
sent to us in virtue of his prayers; their sole object is to lead us 
to him ; and to the enjoyment of his salvation. Hence for these 
three reasons the Holy Spirit is frequently called the Spirit of 
Christ, and to show the necessity of his influences, we are told 
that If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his, 
Rom. viii. 9. Nay, so great was the value that Christ himself 
attached to the coming of the Spirit, that he taught his disciples 
to consider it as more necessary than his own bodily presence, 
It is expedient for you, said he, that I go away, for if I go not away, 
the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I 'will send him 
unto you, John xvi. 7. How glorious and excellent must that 
Spirit be, who is able to supply the want of Christ's bodily 
presence on the earth ! The Spirit of Christ is, in a sense, the 
soul of the church on earth, and the body would soon be dis- 
solved and decay, if the Spirit were wanting. This is the reason 
why the church has not been long since totally destroyed. The 
efforts of man may harass the body, but the Spirit is beyond 
their reach, and wherever a single member of the church is 
found, there the Spirit dwells, and against a Being so Godlike 
and divine, the gates of hell may rage, but they can never pre- 
vail. I know that men may laugh, and say that it is all fanati- 
cism, or enthusiasm, to talk of these secret and mysterious influ- 
ences — but Christ thought not so, when he said, The Spirit of 
Truth shall guide you into all truth: he shall glorify me; for he 
shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. ISTay, to show his 
sense of the infinite importance of this promise, he immediately 
repeated it, in yet more emphatic language, All things that the 
Father hath are mine, therefore said I, he shall take of mine and shall 
shoiv it unto you, John xvi. 13-15. 

3. There is yet a third mode in which Jesus Christ is present 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



Ill 



with, his people, and that is, by his own personal presence. As 
God, he is of course everywhere present, and we may well sup- 
pose that he will be in a peculiar manner with those who are 
redeemed by his own blood, sanctified by his own Spirit, and 
upheld by his own peculiar providence. A father delights to be 
with his children, and a friend with the friend of his heart ; and 
it cannot be that one who loves others, as Christ loves his -own 
people, should consent to be absent from them. Accordingly, 
this presence of Christ with his followers is spoken of in all parts 
of the Scriptures, as common in all ages, and in all places. From 
the numerous passages in which it is referred to, I select only a 
few. He was with the ancient patriarchs in all their sojournings 
in strange lands. It was he who said to Abraham, Fear not, 
Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward, Gen. xv. 1. 
It was he who appeared in that glorious vision to Jacob, as he slept 
upon the ground, with a stone for his pillow, and said, Behold/ 
I am with thee, and ivill keep thee in all places whither thou goest, I 
tvill not leave thee, Gen. xxviii. 15. It was he who appeared to 
Moses in the burning bush, and sending him to the court of 
Pharaoh, calmed his fears and inspired him with courage, by 
saying, Certainly, I will be with thee, Exod. iii. 12. The apostle 
informs us of his presence with the Israelitish nation, in all their 
long and weary wanderings, They did all drink the same spiritual 
drink : for they drank of that spiritual rock which followed them, and 
that rock was Christ, 1 Cor. x. 4. The types and ceremonies of 
the Jewish dispensation, were all emblematical of Christ, and 
many a pious worshipper as he bowed his head when the smoke 
of the evening sacrifice went up, experienced the presence of Him 
who is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever, Heb. xiii. 8. Not 
to mention other examples we may refer to David, to whom such 
clear revelations were made, concerning the future coming of the 
Messiah. His soul dwelt upon the anticipation of this, as all his 
salvation, and all his desire, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, and when, in the 
sweetest strain of poetry and of piety he says, The Lord is my 
Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green 
pastures, he leodeth me beside the still waters. Yea, though I ivalk 
through the valley of the shadoiv of death, I will fear no evil ; for thou 
art with me, Ps. xxiii. 

For awhile he dwelt upon the earth in human form, and his 
disciples conversed with him face to face. They saiv his glory, 
ike glory as of the only-begotten of the Father^ John i. 14. They 



112 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



rejoiced in his presence, though there were times when the glory 
of the Godhead shone so brightly in him, that they almost feared 
to approach him. But he is not now on earth, as to his bodily 
presence. Nor is it needful. The Spirit supplies the want of his 
bodily presence, and there is still that mystical union between 
him and all his people, that makes them one. Think not, that 
though his glorified body is in heaven, he himself is away. The 
members of his church are the branches, and he is the vine, and 
it is owing to their union with him that they grow and bear fruit, 
John xv. 1. The members of his church are members of his 
body, while he is their head, Eph. iv. 15. They are living stones 
in that temple of which he is the chief corner-stone, Eph. ii. 20. 
There is a union between him and his people which no created 
power can destroy, and from that union they derive life and hap- 
piness and strength. That union is a perpetual one. It is re- 
markable that one of the first circumstances recorded of the life 
of Christ, is that his name is Emmanuel, God with us, while his 
own last words on earth were, Lo, I am with you always, even to the 
end of the world, Matt, xxviii. 20. Nor does it stop even when 
the world is ended, for he has told us, and his apostles have 
repeated the declaration, that we shall be ever with the Lord, 
John xvii. 24 ; 1 Thes. iv. 17. 

We may well pause here, and inquire, Can these things be 
really true ? Why is this wonderful display of the presence of 
the uncreated Son of God ? It was a truth which nature taught 
the ancient heathen, "Never introduce a God, but where a God 
is needed." But here the Son of God frequently appears, nay, 
is constantly present, and that not with equals, for he has no equals, 
not even with the highest rank of created beings, — but he is rep- 
resented as condescending to our low estate, and holding commu- 
nion near and intimate with worms of the dust. Again we repeat, 
why is all this ? Why this almost prodigal display of the riches 
of the presence and grace of the Godhead? What great objects 
are subserved by these wonderful and varied manifestations of the 
King of the universe ? Say not that it is prodigality, — say not 
that it is ostentation, — say not that it is unneeded — For us it is 
vitally important, for our salvation it is essential. 

We are ignorant creatures. Naturally ignorant of the very 
first principles of religion; of our own true character; of the 
evil nature of sin ; of God's holiness, and of our danger — and in 
addition to this natural blindness, there is a superadded darkness, 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 113 

for the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them that 
believe not. If this ignorance be not removed, there is no possi- 
bility of our salvation. If a man knows not that he is in danger, 
he will make no efforts to escape. But who shall enlighten us ? 
That mere human reason can do it, is impossible ; the experience 
of the world, in all ages, has shown it to be out of the question. 
Go no farther than your own doors for proof. On every side, 
you shall see the men of the greatest and most ancient nation on 
earth, ignorant of the first principles of religion, and hoping to 
secure their safety beyond the grave, by worshipping the bones 
of their ancestors. We need a teacher come from God, to enlighten 
us, one who shall have power to remove the scales that dim our 
mental sight, and place spiritual things before our eyes, and com- 
mand our attention to them. Such a teacher we find only in the 
Son of God. But we are not only ignorant, we are also sinful 
and condemned, and exposed to the wrath of God. We need a 
Saviour, \^ko can bear our sins, and take away the punishment 
clue to them, and bring us off free and unharmed, when the 
insulted justice of God cries aloud for redress. From such an 
undertaking, all created strength shrinks back appalled. But 
God has laid help for us upon one mighty to save, and the reason 
why Christ was made flesh, and dwelt among us, was, that he might 
deliver those who trust in him from the wrath of God. This work 
he accomplished, because he is Emmanuel, Godiviihus. Bat not only 
are we ignorant, and therefore in need of divine instruction, — and 
guilty, and therefore needing to have our sins atoned for, and par- 
doned — we are also full of sin, and need to be sanctified, and 
restored to the image of God, before we can be received again 
into his presence. This is no easy work. He who alone knows the 
heart, has declared that it is deceitful above cdl things, and desper- 
ately tuicked, Jer. xvii. 9 ; and though we are naturally loth to 
believe such a declaration concerning ourselves, yet the proofs of it 
so stare us in the face on every side, that, in one form or other, we 
are forced to confess its truth. Let any man make the effort to 
lead a perfectly holy life. Be not satisfied with mere departure 
from overt acts of wickedness, — avoid the least sin, not only of 
action, but of words. Let no unkind expression, even, proceed 
from your mouth. Guard your heart with all diligence, and let 
no evil, no impure, no unhallowed thought, ever rise there. No 
matter how great the temptation, or how strong the provocation, 
let it be your object to bear everything, as Christ himself would 

8 



114 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



have borne it. Which of you, after making such an experiment 
for a single day, could say, " I am perfect, I have not sinned?" 
Ah, no ! You cannot, you dare not, thus speak. Evil dwells in 
the heart of the children of men, and the holiest of men have 
ever felt most deeply its power over them. Paul, in the bitter- 
ness of his heart, cried out, Who shall deliver me from the body of 
this death f Eom. vii. 24. He himself could not do it, and his 
experience has been felt by every Christian, down to the present 
time. It is in this respect, that we specially need the presence 
of our Saviour. He it is who enables us to contend against the 
evils of our own hearts, and the allurements of the world, and 
the fiery darts of Satan. The victory is often doubtful, and the 
battle sore, and we sometimes receive wounds that we carry with 
us to the grave ; but none, that depend upon him, shall be finally 
overcome. By the guidance of his providence, by the influence 
of his Spirit, by the secret, but all-powerful efficacy of his own 
presence, he sustains the Christian, bears him on, •gives him 
courage and consolation, brings good to him out of evil, puts his 
enemies to flight, and gives him a final and complete victory 
over sin, the world, and the devil. It is for this object that he 
displays so much of his presence, for it is his presence alone that 
can accomplish it; and who will say that it is not a sufficient 
object to require his presence ? 

This presence of Christ accompanies the believer through life, 
and crowns the felicity of his heavenly inheritance. Among all 
the notes of joy that swell the anthems of the redeemed in heaven, 
few, if any, are higher than the strain, the burden of which is, 
Emmanuel, God with us. 

From the various practical inferences which this subject 
teaches us, I select only the following : — 

1. We learn, hence, the necessity of a deep reverence for 
Christ, and of habitual seriousness of deportment. We are all in 
danger of falling into two errors, in our views of the Saviour of 
the world. Either we think so little about him, that we have no 
definite ideas respecting his character and works, and are but sel- 
dom sensible of his presence; or else we think too lightly of him, 
and regard him with too much familiarity. Either of these views 
is exceedingly erroneous. If he be so constantly with us, as has 
been shown, then, surely, ought we to be at pains to acquaint our- 
selves with him, to know who, and what he is, who thus mani- 
fests himself to us. To this we are the more incited, because we 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



115 



are informed, that to know him, is eternal life, John xvii. 3. We 
cannot well have too many thoughts of Christ, for such a friend 
deserves our warmest and most frequent remembrances. Yet, 
while you think of him with frequency and affection, beware of 
low views of his character, or unbecoming deportment in his 
presence. It is true, he has greatly condescended in thus coining 
down to our condition ; but still he is God over all, blessed forever, 
Eom. ix. 5, and you cannot too deeply reverence him. And if 
he be thus constantly present with you, how can you possibly 
maintain a light and trifling deportment before him ? We rise 
up before the hoary head, and show reverence to them that are 
placed in authority over us ; and shall we show less to the great 
Ancient of days, who is also King of kings, and Lord of lords. I 
do not recommend moroseness, I do not recommend sadness. On 
the contrary, the joy of the Lord is your strength, Neh. viii. 10 ; 
but there is a seriousness, and sobriety, and dignity, that well 
becomes the ministers and constant companions of so great a 
monarch. 

Again, we are taught by the truths just now presented to feel 
the highest esteem for the church of Christ, and for all the mem- 
bers of that church. It may be confidently asserted that there is 
no body on earth so truly honorable, or worthy of respect, as the 
Christian church. This is not the common opinion of mankind, 
but it is nevertheless true. What is it that constitutes dignity, or 
gives a claim to honor ? Is it not their acquisition of knowledge, 
and power, and virtue — the possession of riches, and the favor 
and friendship of the good and the great ? And what assemblage 
is so richly endowed with these as the church ? Constantly sus- 
tained by the favor and friendship of the Eternal Son of Grod, 
having his presence constantly with her ; receiving from him the 
true riches which the world knows not, and the true knowledge — 
even that which leads to eternal life and happiness. She is all 
glorious luithin, and her clothing is of ivrought gold, Ps. xlv. 13. She 
looketh forth as the morning, clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and 
terrible as an army with banners, Cant. 6. 10. Let the world es- 
teem her as they may, the Christian may well say, If I forget thee, 
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning ; let my tongue 
cleave to the roof of my mouth: if I prefer not Jerusalem to my chief 
joy, Ps. cxxxvii. 5, 6. 

Finally. This subject affords us an excellent test of Christian 
character. The proper application of it will enable you to dis- 



116 



EMMANUEL. GOD WITH US. 



cover both whether you really possess the grace of Christ in your 
heart, and whether it is growing and flourishing there. Such a 
being cannot be with any of our race in such diversified ways, as 
Christ is with his people, without producing most sensible effects, 
and changes in their characters and conduct. Is he thus with 
you ? Eemember, if you expect to spend an eternity with him, 
that union must commence before the end of time. As death 
leaves yon, so will eternity find yon, and so will you continue. 
Do you then feel the presence of Christ with you ? Are you sen- 
sible of the influences of the Spirit working upon your heart and 
affections ? Do you feel yourself under the power of new motives, 
and those motives such as have reference mainly to the kingdom 
of Grod ? Do you delight in the thoughts of Christ ? Is it pleas- 
ant to you to recognize his image in others, and to cherish it in 
yourselves ? What influence is produced both upon your heart 
and your life by this constant presence of the Saviour ? If you 
are really one of his people, whom he has deigned to take into 
such near union with himself, you will greatly delight to think 
of him; you will long to feel his presence more sensibly, and 
more constantly ; and you will make it the great business of your 
life to become like him. Said an excellent Christian once to me, 
" Ever since I knew anything of religion, I have made it my 
daily prayer, that I might know more of Christ." I knew that 
Christian well, and could distinctl}- mark the benefit he received 
from snch a course. Be it your study also, my hearers, to learn 
the character of Christ, and to feel his presence with you con- 
stantly. So shall you realize more and more the excellency there 
is in this glorious name, Emmanuel, God with us. 



Macao, August 20, 1843. 



SERMON XIV. 



THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 

And it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two 
omers for one man : and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 
And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said. To-morrow is the 
rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord : bake that ye will bake to-day, and seethe 
that ye will seethe ; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept 
until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade : and it 
did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to- 
day ; for to-day is a Sabbath unto the Lord ; to-day ye shall not find it in the 
field. Six days shall ye gather it ; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, 
in it there shall be none. And it came to pass that there went out some of the 
people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said 
unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws ? See, 
for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the 
sixth day the bread of two days : abide ye every man in his place ; let no man go 
out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day. — 
Exodus xvi. 22-30. 

The giving of manna to the Israelites in the wilderness was 
not one miracle, but many. The creation of such a substance, 
and its falling at the early morning hour ; its melting in the sun, 
yet remaining hard in the tents ; its corrupting if kept over night, 
and yet remaining uncorrupted in the golden pot for a thousand 
years ; its falling for forty years, and yet ceasing on the very day 
when no longer needed — all were miracles, any one of which 
would have formed an era in the history of any other nation. 
There was another circumstance connected with it equally mira- 
culous. The manna fell every day, and the people gathered the 
portion of each day in its day ; but this general rule had one ex- 
ception. It fell six days in the week, but not on the seventh ; 
and to provide for the wants of the seventh, a double quantity 
fell, and was gathered on the preceding day. But here a diffi- 
culty arose. When the manna first fell, an order was given that 
none should keep it over night, and those who transgressed, found 



118 



THE SAJTCTIFIC ATION" OF THE SABBATH. 



to their confusion, that it bred worms and became loathsome. 
Another miracle was needed, and the general law, that if kept it 
should corrupt, was suspended during one day in seven, so that the 
manna gathered on the sixth day remained sweet and good upon 
the seventh. Thus the miracle itself had its miraculous excep- 
tions. The reason for these superadded miracles is found in the 
fact, that the seventh day was a Sabbath unto the Lord, in which 
no servile work was allowed to be done. It was a day of rest, 
holy unto the Lord, and rather than suffer that rest to be broken 
by even the necessary avocations of life, or ordinary affairs to in- 
terfere with his more immediate service, he would interrupt the 
laws of his own miracles, and suspend the rules himself had im- 
posed upon them. There is nothing in this account leading us to 
suppose that the Sabbath was now first observed. It is spoken 
of as an institution long well-known, and one, the duty of ob- 
serving which, was commonly acknowledged. To these two 
points I request your serious attention. 
I. The early history of the Sabbath day. 

There are many who suppose the institution of the Sabbath 
day to be a mere Jewish rite, appointed at Sinai, intended only 
for the Jews, and abolished with the other Levitical laws, upon 
the death of Christ ; and that consequently it need not be ob- 
served at all, and certainly not in its strictness, by those who live 
under the Christian dispensation. But the Sabbath was no mere 
Jewish rite. In the words of our Saviour, the Sabbath ivas made 
for man. It was instituted at the creation of the world. It was 
embodied in the moral law, and proclaimed in thunder from 
Mount Sinai, and it was sanctioned and sanctified by the example 
and the resurrection of the Son of Man, who Avas Lord of the 
Sabbath day. 

The rest of the seventh day is first mentioned in the account 
of the creation. Six days did God labor. He spake, and on 
successive days the light, the blue expanse, the earth and seas 
and vegetable life, the sun and moon, the inhabitants of the deep 
and of the air, and last of all, the living creatures of the earth, 
and man appeared, and took their stations in the new-formed 
world. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host 
of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had 
made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had 
made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it : because 
that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made, 



THE SANCTIFICATIOX OF THE SABBATH. 



119 



Gen. ii. 1-3. That God rested from labor through weariness can- 
not be supposed : the rest here spoken of must therefore be a 
holy resting from employment, and a blessed contemplation of 
the works he had made. God kept the Sabbath day, and his ex- 
ample, and his blessing and sanctifying, or setting apart, the sev- 
enth day, was that men might do the same. So it was under- 
stood by all men both before and after the deluge. Of this a suf- 
ficient proof is found in the early and universal division of time 
into weeks, and in the sacred regard that was paid to the number 
seven. Thus Noah went into the ark, and after seven days, the 
flood came, G-en. vii. 10. When the flood abated, Noah sent 
forth a dove, and after she returned, finding no place to rest, he 
stayed seven days and again he sent her forth, Gen. viii. 10. She 
returned with an olive leaf, and again he stayed other seven days and 
sent her forth, Gen. viii. 12. In the history of Jacob the Sabbath 
is referred to. Seven years he served Laban for Kachel, but by 
deception Leah was given to him. When he complained of the 
fraud, Laban said, Fulfil her week also, and toe will give thee this 
also for the service -which thou shall serve ivith me, yet other seven 
years, Gen. xxix. 27. 

The universal use of seven as a sacred number can be ex- 
plained only by the fact that time was commonly divided into 
periods of seven days by the Sabbath. Cain was to be avenged 
seven-fold, Gen. iv. 15. Noah took clean beasts by sevens, Gen. 
vii. 2. When Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech, he 
did it with seven ewe lambs, Gen. xxi. 29. Pharaoh's double 
vision of kine and of the ears of corn appeared to him by sevens, 
and was followed by seven years of plenty, and seven years of 
famine. The Hebrew word for an oath, one of their most sacred 
acts of religion, is derived from the word seven. Not only with 
the HebreAvs is the number seven and the seventh day, sacred. 
It is so also with the Egyptians, Arabians, and Persians ; and 
from Egypt it came to Greece, and Homer and Hesiod speak of 
■'the sacred seventh day" (eSdouov leyoi^uccgy 

The history of the manna in the desert is a perfect proof that 
the Sabbath was observed before the giving of the Law on Mount 
Sinai. The manna fell in the desert of Sin, a full month before 
Israel came to Sinai, but none fell on the seventh day, nor were 
the people allowed on that day to seek it in the field. Why ? 
Because some new law was then made known ? By no means. 
To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord, Ex. xvi. 23. 



120 



THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 



The seventh day is the Sabbath, v. 26. So the people rested the seventh 
day, v. 30. All this shows the Sabbath to be an institution known 
long before that time. 

The law given from Sinai, was not intended merely for the 
Jews. With the ritual observances afterwards promulgated, 
other nations have little to do ; but the ten commandments are 
only a transcript of what was at first written on the human heart ; 
they form a summary of the moral law, which every son of 
Adam is sacredly bound to obey, and whose obligation is perma- 
nent as the world itself. Yet among those universal laws none 
stands out with greater prominence, none is more carefully 
guarded, none enforced with so many reasons. Remember the 
Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy 
work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it 
thou shalt not do any work : thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy 
man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that 
is within thy gates : for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, 
the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day : wherefore 
the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it, Exod. xx. 9-11. 
Eemember the Sabbath, — then it must have been previously ap- 
pointed, and already known. 

Nor was it abolished at the death of Christ. The New Testa- 
ment contains no record, and gives no hint of any such abolition. 
Christ came to bring the Levitical law to an end, but the Sabbath 
is part of that moral law, which he came not to destroy, but to 
confirm. He rescued it from the false glosses of the Jews, dis- 
tinctly proclaiming that works of necessity and works of mercy 
were lawful on that day ; but he left its sanctions unimpaired, 
and his own example, and that of all his followers, shows with 
abundant clearness that the day was still holy to the Lord, Acts 
xx. 7, 1 Cor. xvi. 2, Rev. i. 10, John xx. 19, 26. In commemo- 
ration of his return from the grave, its observance was changed 
from the seventh to the first day of the week, and it has since 
been sacredly kept by the Christian Church. It is therefore most 
manifest that the Sabbath is for all men, without distinction of na- 
tion or time. This is seen 

1. In its original appointment at the creation of the world. 

2. In its prominent place in the moral law. 

3. In the example of all holy men, before and after Moses, of 
Christ himself, and his apostles, and of the Christian Church. 

4. In the numerous and express precepts and allusions of the 



THE SAXCTIFICATIOX OF THE SABBATH. 



121 



Scriptures, which separate it widely from the merely ritual ob- 
servances that were only a shadow of things to come. 

Has the Sabbath day been thus set apart and made binding 
on all men ? It becomes then a question of chief importance, 
How is it to be sanctified ? TThat duties are incumbent on us as 
to its observance ? On this point there is a general and most 
melancholy ignorance or neglect of duty, and in many cases an 
open profanation of the law of God. 

What is the object of the Sabbath day? It is first to give 
man a time of rest and relaxation. The business of the world 
requires much time, and with hearts like ours, ever prone to the 
earth, and longing after its enjoyments, there is too much proba- 
bility of being completely engrossed in the things around us, to 
the exclusion and forgetfulness of the higher ends of our being. 
The Sabbath comes in to draw off the mind from the world; to 
allow our overtasked and wearied intellects season for repose and 
renewal : to invigorate our souls with influences from above, that 
shall prevent the world from gaining undue influence, and finally 
dragging us exhausted to destruction. 

But it is not merely a time of repose. It is also intended as a 
time for specially serving God and preparing for that world, 
where one eternal Sabbath reigns. Many complain that they 
have no time to serve God; that the needful business of this 
world prevents attention to the claims of another. Tain and 
foolish complaints! The Sabbath is given expressly for these 
purposes. If there were no Sabbath there would be room for 
complaint, for it would soon be found that the world had wormed 
itself into every thought, and engrossed the heart and every 
affection with itself, leaving neither time nor inclination for 
things that last when the earth shall be dissolved. But this 
danger was foreseen by our Creator, and a guard set against it in 
the weekly return of the Sabbath day. 

To the LojW and the Testimony. — Examine carefully the word 
of God, and say honestly what its requirements are. One day in 
seven is to be sanctified, or set apart to the service of God. It is 
the whole day that is to be kept holy. The command is not, 
JRemember the Sabbath morning, or the Sabbath 'noon, but Remember 
the Sabbath day. The whole day is to be sanctified by a holy 
rest from all employments and recreations, not excepting those 
that are lawful on other days. It is difficult to conceive how 
anything can be more explicit than the words of the command, 



122 



THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 



Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work ; but the seventh day is 
the Sabbath oj the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt not do any work. 
You are neither to work yourselves, nor are you to allow, much 
less to require those under your control to work. Neither your 
children, nor yom servants, nor your guests are to profane the 
day. Thou shalt not do any ivork, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daugh- 
ter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor the stranger that is 
within thy gates. The command is especially addressed to gov- 
ernors of families, — who are too apt, though the}' work not them- 
selves, to require, or at least to allow those under them to work. 
The only exceptions, are works of necessity and of mercy. 
Christ allowed his hungry disciples to pluck the corn on the Sab- 
bath and eat, to lead their cattle to water, to rescue animals in 
distress, and relieve the maladies of the diseased — these were 
works of necessity and mercy. 

While working is to be avoided, we are required on the Sab- 
bath day, to spend the whole time not occupied in works on that 
day allowed, in the public and private or social exercises of God's 
worship. This we learn from the example of Christ, who, as his 
custom zuas, went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up 
to read, Luke iv. 16; and of the apostles who did the same, 
Acts xiii. 14, xxii. 2, 1 Cor. xvi. 2 ; and also from the precepts 
of the Bible, which command, Take heed to yourselves, and bear no 
burden on the Sabbath day, neither carry forth a burden out of your 
houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work : but hallow ye the 
Sabbath day, as I commanded your forefathers, Jer. xvii. 21, 22. 

There are many who will complain of all this as a hard rule, 
and unnecessarily strict. My answer to all such complaints is, 
Thus saith the Lord. If it can be shown from the Scriptures, that 
what has been advanced is not the mind of the Lord, being either 
contrary to it, or going beyond it, then there will be room for 
complaint, and license to neglect. But if I have rightly ex- 
pounded the Scriptures on this point, then the question lies 
between you and your Maker. Will you obey and secure his 
blessing, — or will you disobey and incur the consequences ? Be- 
fore you answer, consider the reasons that God has condescended 
to give for the observance of the Sabbath day. The reasons 
annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are 
taken from the equity of it; God allowing us six days out of 
seven for our own affairs and reserving but one for himself ; from 
God's challenging a special propriety in the seventh, It is the 



THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 



123 



Sabbath of the Lord thy God; from the example of God, who 
labored six days and rested the seventh ; and from that blessing 
of Grod which he put on that day, not only in sanctifying it to be 
a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing 
to ourselves, in our sanctifying it. How many examples might 
be adduced in confirmation of these reasons ! Volumes might be 
written detailing the rewards that have followed a careful ob- 
servance of the day, and the judgments that have visited those 
who dared to transgress. Hear the testimony of Sir Matthew 
Hale, after fifty years' experience: "Whenever I have under- 
taken any secular business on the Lord's day, which was not 
absolutely and indispensably necessary, that business never pros- 
pered and succeeded well with me. Always the more closely I 
applied myself to the duties of the Lord's day, the more happy 
and successful were my business and employments, the rest of 
the week following.' 7 Who ever performed more labor than 
Wilberforce? His own recorded opinion is that he could not 
have accomplished so much business, but for the rest of the Sab- 
bath ; he went down to his grave in peace, and in a good old age, 
while many who began their course with him, ended their lives 
prematurely, or became maniacs and self-destroyers. Did space 
permit, an array of facts could be presented showing conclusively 
that even as it regards this world, those who observe the Sabbath 
are more prosperous than those who do not. It would be easy 
to prove that nine tenths of the criminals in the prisons of nomi- 
nally Christian lands were Sabbath-breakers. The testimony of 
physicians would show that the rest of the Sabbath is as necessary 
for the body as it is for the soul. The testimony of disinterested 
men would show that a large proportion of merchants who have 
failed in business were Sabbath-breakers. I know there are some 
splendid exceptions to this remark, and these are commonly 
pointed to by those who would justify themselves, not knowing, 
or not caring to know, that these are mere exceptions, shining- 
lighthouses built upon the quicksands, which, while in danger of 
being swallowed up themselves, lure the unwary mariner to 
destruction. 

Such is a brief history of the Sabbath day, of the duties it 
requires, and of the reasons by which its observance is enforced ; 
and all who profess the Christian name are bound to show cause 
why they do not so regard it. It is so interwoven with the whole 
spirit of Christianity, as to be inseparable from it : and I do not 



124 



THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 



scruple to say that the man who wilfully and habitually disregards 
the Sabbath day, will also, if he supposes his interests require it, 
disregard every other requisition of the religion of Christ. How 
then is the Sabbath day regarded by the Protestant community in 
China? I ask this question and contemplate its answer, not 
without anxiety ; but it is a subject on which the truth must be 
spoken, and plainly spoken. As a minister of the kingdom of 
Christ, it is my duty to declare the laws of that kingdom ; and 
my commission empowers me to speak, to exhort, and to rebuke with 
all authority, Tit. ii. 15. On this point at least I will clear my 
skirts of guilt. In general, the Sabbath day is grossly desecrated 
by the professedly Christian community of China. From the 
highest authority downwards, it is almost as if there were no such 
day, and even of those who pay an outward respect to it, there 
are few indeed who obey the spirit of its requisitions. Is this a 
sweeping charge ? It may be, but it is as true as it is sweeping. 
The English government has, by law, established the Christian 
religion, and every officer of that government is bound by his 
oath of office to sustain that religion. Have they done so in Chi- 
na? What means this frequent violation of the Sabbath by the 
performance of public official acts upon that day ? Why, when 
the supplementary treaty between England and China was lately 
signed, was the Sabbath day selected for that purpose, with all its 
parade by water and by land ? In war some excuse might be 
imagined for working on the Sabbath, but in peace, there is none. 
It has been said that that day was chosen in accordance with the 
wishes of the Chinese commissioner. But can it be supposed that 
he chose that day because it was the Christian Sabbath ? Can it 
be supposed that while professing friendship and a desire for peace, 
he sought to insult us by requiring us to violate the commands of 
our Creator? It cannot be supposed. Keying is a gentleman, 
and as such, the slightest hint that that day was consecrated to 
the service of God, and could not lawfully be spent in such a way, 
would have been amply sufficient to induce him to select another 
day. I might refer to other public acts, but let me ask why were 
the mails for Bombay closed at Hong Kong, at 5 o'clock, p.m. on 
Sabbath, Dec. 24 ? Was not this requiring the foreign community 
there to spend that day in their counting-houses ? What immi- 
nent crisis in public affairs prevented the mails from being closed 
twenty-four hours sooner, or twenty -four hours later? Some 
may think it improper thus publicly to notice these things, but 



THE SANCTIFICATIOX OF THE SABBATH. 



125 



as the public acts of public men are public property, it is not im- 
proper to make them matters of public remark. And what, I 
would ask, must the heathen around us think of our regard for 
our religion, when its most sacred precepts are openly, and need- 
lessly set at naught, by those high in authority, and solemnly 
bound to observe them ? 

If the Sabbath is disregarded by the public authorities, is it 
better honored by private individuals ? I grieve to say no. In 
one or other of the following ways, I charge the foreign commu- 
nity in China with neglecting or profaning the day. Those whose 
consciences acquit them of the charges, will not suppose that I 
refer to them. 

1. It is made a day for the transaction of ordinary business. 
There are those who go regularly to their counting-houses on the 
Sabbath day. There are those who settle their accounts upon that 
day. There are those who bring up the arrears of their corres- 
pondence on that day. There are many who do all this regularly, 
but there are few indeed who scruple, if they are slightly pressed 
with business, to employ some of the hours of the sacred day. If a 
ship comes in on the Sabbath, who is there that hesitates to read 
his business letters, and speculate on their contents, and make ar- 
rangements for the week ensuing? Who is there that hesitates to 
despatch a ship on the Sabbath day ? The practice of despatching 
ships on the Lord's day, is exceedingly common. More vessels 
sail from this port on the Sabbath day, than any other day in the 
Aveek, and yet what advantage is gained by it? "What difference 
does it make in ordinary cases, whether a ship is twenty-four 
hours sooner or later in starting, if she has a month at least or 
four months for her voyage ? It is said that there is not much 
labor in getting a ship under weigh, and as she must sail on the 
Sabbath, when once started, why not start on that day ? This is 
not a correct statement. There is a great deal of labor in the 
starting of a vessel ; there are a hundred things to be done, and 
the day on which she sails is seldom or never a day of rest to the 
officers or men. And what right has any man to require a whole 
ship's crew to give up the privileges of the Sabbath, that he may 
put a few more dollars in his pocket ? I know it is said by some, 
that ship captains prefer starting on the Sabbath, but I doubt this. 
I once asked a captain of a vessel, why he sailed on the Sabbath ? 
It was a disagreeable question. At first he remarked, as is so 
commonly done, ''The better day the better deed." A more 



126 THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 

wicked remark can hardly be made, for if it be true, then the 
man who stabs his brother on the Sabbath, is a good man ! At 
last he said, " I did not want to do it, but my owners told me to 
start, and what could I do? A sailor is not his own master." 
The owners of that vessel have failed in business. Another cap- 
tain told me not long since, that he did not wish to work on the 
Sabbath, but he had express orders to keep his men constantly 
employed, and to give out goods on the Sabbath day, as on every 
other day. I happen to know, that the owners of that vessel, 
suffered a dead loss of several thousands of dollars by that voyage. 
It is a fearful thing to act in opposition to the Almighty. He 
who holds the winds in his fists, and the waters in the hollow of 
his hands can easily blast the riches you acquire, or hope to gain 
by violating his ordinances. And I say emphatically, you have 
no right to do so. God says, Six days shalt thou labor and do all 
thy work, but the seventh is the /Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou 
shalt not do any work. Can language be clearer than this ? 

2. There are some who do not labor themselves upon the 
Lord's day, aad yet make no scruple of keeping their clerks, and 
especially their Chinese servants and workmen, busy on that day. 
This custom is almost universal, and one cannot go through a 
street in Macao or Hong Kong on the Sabbath days without see- 
ing companies of men building houses, making roads, packing 
boxes, and carrying goods; and for whom? For English and 
American Protestants, who profess to receive the Bible as the 
word of God, and to be called by the name of Christ ! I was 
once called to visit a sick man on the Sabbath day, and going to 
the house where he lay a dying, I had to make my way through 
a number of men in the employ of the Christian owner of the 
house, nailing boxes before the window of his room ! You think 
there is no harm in this, because they are heathen, and would 
work for others or themselves on that day, if not for you. I do 
not see the force of this excuse. They are your servants, and 
under } T our control, and the command of God is, Thou shalt not do 
any tuorJc, thou nor thy man-servant nor thy maid-servant. What 
right have you to say, They are heathens, let them work ? when 
God soys, They shall not work When Nehemiah was Governor 
of Jerusalem, he saw the poorer Jews working on the Sabbath, 
and he forbade it. He also saw the heathen men of Tyre bring- 
ing fish and wares to sell on the Sabbath in Jerusalem, and he 
not only forbade it, but threatened them with imprisonment if 



THE SAKCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH. 



127 



tliey repeated the offence. But he did not stop here. It does 
not appear that the people of Judah themselves trafficked on 
that day, but they had the power to prevent such traffic on the 
part of others ; and because they did not prevent it, the pious 
ZSehemiah contended with and reproved them. What evil thing 
is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day t Did not your 
fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and 
upon this city? Yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning 
the Sabbath, [N'eh. xiii. 15-21. There are few who come here 
direct from England or America, who are not shocked at the open 
profanation of the Lord's day, countenanced and allowed as it is, 
by those who in their own country would not act thus. Why is 
it that you do here, what you would not do there ? Is not the 
eye of God as closely upon you, and his laws as strict in China, 
as on the other side of the globe? And what motive is therefor 
it ? Because you wish to make a fortune as speedily as possible, 
and leave the country ? Alas, this is not the way to accomplish 
your wish, for the wisest of men has said, A faithfid man shall 
abound with blessings ; but he that malceth haste to be rich shall not be 
unpunished, — and, He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, andcon- 
sidereth not that poverty shcdl come upon him, Pro v. xxviii. 20-22. 

3. You make it a day of amusement ; of feasting ; of visiting 
your friends : of travelling to and fro. The Sabbath is the great 
day for visiting in China. And in your visits, what is your con- 
versation ? You talk of the weather, of your amusements, of your 
schemes, of your business — but not of Grod, not of the creation, 
not of the redemption of man. Is this right? The Sabbath was 
appointed to give you time for serving God. I have seen no part 
of Scripture that authorizes any part of it to be devoted either to 
travelling or to visiting. But I have seen a part of Scripture that 
says, Turn away thy foot from doing thy pleasure on my holy day : 
and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable : and 
honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, 
nor speaking thine own words, Is. lviii. 13. Let no man say, " This 
is only a part of the old Jewish ceremonial law, long since abol- 
ished.' ' This is very far from being the case. For, on the con- 
trary, in the very same chapter, the prophet does speak of the 
ceremonial rites that were of no avail, and after showing their 
worthlessness, contrasts the duties required of those who would 
worship God truly; and among them duties occurs the verse just 
quoted. But here the objection is started, " What a gloomy reli- 



128 



THE SANCTIFIOATION" OF THE SABBATH. 



gion you are proposing ! Surely God does not intend us to be 
moping, melancholy creatures ?" I answer, surely not. But have 
you not six days in every week for amusement ? Tell me not, 
that you have not time on the week days, and must have the 
Sabbath for relaxation. I speak as to wise men — I speak to hon- 
orable men, who count it a disgrace to defraud a fellow-mortal. 
Is it honorable in you, after spending six days for yourselves, to 
rob your Creator of the only day he has reserved for himself, and 
spend that too for your amusement ? Is it safe for you to do so ? 
Said a dissolute young man to a clergyman, " I spend the Sab- 
bath in casting up my accounts." " Yes, sir," replied the other, 
" and you shall find that God will spend the day of judgment in 
the same manner." And when we stand in judgment before 
God to render an account to him for the time given us here, what 
shall we say of the Sabbaths, which he intended should be spent 
in his service, but which too many regard as all their own ? 

4. Finally. There are others, who, perhaps, do not trans- 
gress in any of the ways just mentioned, but who are still by no 
means free from blame. I refer to those who spend the Sabbath 
in idleness, and rejoice when it is over. On other days they rise 
with the lark, but on the Sabbath find peculiar attractions in 
their beds. On other days the time passes too rapidly, but their 
listless countenances and vacant air in this day proclaims as 
loudly as words themselves, What a weariness it is, Mai. i. 18. 
When will the Sabbath be gone, that we may set forth ivheatf Amos 
viii. 5. And strange as it may seem, this is done by men who 
gravely tell us they have not time to attend to religion ! The 
Sabbath is given for this very purpose, and their only study is, 
how they may "kill it." Aye ! They kill one of God's most pre- 
cious gifts, and in so doing kill their own souls also. 

I have spoken plainly — judge ye what I say, as you shall an- 
swer for it, not to me, but to God. There is but a single remark 
to be added. Eather than that Israel should work on the 
Sabbath day, even to obtain their living, a series of miracles gave 
them a double supply of manna on the sixth, and we have no 
evidence tthat the Sabbath was more sacred then than it is now. 

Macao, December 31, 1843. 



SERMON XV. 

CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 

We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks 
foolishness : but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the 
power of God, and the wisdom of God. — 1 Cor. i. 23, 24. 

It was a remarkable characteristic in the teaching of our 
Lord, that he never concealed or glossed over the hardships 
attending a profession of faith in his name. He always set 
plainly before his hearers what they must expect, if they cast in 
their lot among his people. There were labors to be performed, 
and temptations to be endured, and trials to be suffered, and self- 
denial to be exercised, such as the flesh would oftentimes willingly 
shrink from, — but he told them to count the cost, for he wished 
no soldiers in his camp, who were not prepared to do and suffer 
all that he required. "When the rich young ruler came to him, 
and, with so much humility and apparent sincerity, asked what 
he must do to be saved. Jesus, we are told, loved him, but still he 
set before him the same unvarying terms of discipleship. Sell all 
that thou hastj and come folloio me. The poor ruler went away 
sorrowful, for he had great possessions. While our Lord prom- 
ised great rewards to his followers, a hundred-fold, even in this 
life, and in the world to come, eternal life, still 

■ Deny thyself, and take thy cross, 
Was the Redeemer's great command." 

The ministers of Christ must follow his example. While we 
urge you to come unto him ; while we pray you to be reconciled 
unto Grod : while Ave set the hopes of life before you ; and know- 
ing the terrors of the Lord, persuade you to flee from the wrath 
to come, still must we say, like our Master, If any man mill come 
after him, let him deny himself] and take up his cross daily, and follow 
him. Luke ix. 23. 

9 



130 



CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 



The apostle Paul was a very striking example of this minis- 
terial faithfulness. None was more anxious than he that men 
should be saved. His heart's desire and prayer for Israel was, that 
they might be saved. With many tears, and wonderful labors, he 
laid himself out to save souls. He became all things to all men, if, 
by any means, he might save some. But, with all his anxiety, he 
never compromised the truth. He kept bach nothing, hoover lit- 
tle some might like what he preached. Such, too, was his confi- 
dence in the gospel, and particularly in that part of it which 
speaks of a crucified Saviour, that he never hesitated to declare 
that, the main subject of his preaching, and the sole ground of his 
hopes. In Jerusalem, where our Lord was crucified, he feared not 
to confound the Jews, by proving him to have been the very Christ. 
In the streets of polished Athens, surrounded by every monument 
of the genius and skill of that far-famed people, he boldly told 
them of the day of judgment, and how God had given assurance 
concerning it, in that He had raised Christ from the dead, Acts xvii. 
Therefore it was, that he declares, as in the text, We preach Christ 
crucified. By this, he of course means the way of salvation, 
through the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross, — that being the 
reason, and the sole ground of our salvation. This doctrine, together 
with those inseparably connected with it, are, as he intimates, ex- 
ceedingly offensive to some, while to others they are equally pre- 
cious. This is most remarkable. To hear their different accounts, 
you would not suppose they spoke of the same thing. Let us con- 
sider why it is so offensive to some, and why so precious to others. 

I. It is offensive to many, because, 

1. The Christian religion is meanly thought of by the great 
mass of mankind. It was formerly a standing reproach against 
Christians, that they worshipped a " crucified man ;" as Celsus, 
one of their bitterest opponents, said, "After living a life of 
degradation, he underwent a most shameful and pitiful death." 
This was equally offensive to the Jews, and to the Greeks ; and 
it is scarcely less so now. I do not speak of a mere outward 
profession of Christianity. In the country of which the most of 
us are natives, the people are a good deal like the Jews of old. 
Religion is rather fashionable than otherwise. It is expected 
that a man should attend church. Men who are not connected 
with any church, will read and admire the Bible. Many such 
would be greatly offended to be thought not religious. They 
say, "I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, — that he died to 



CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 



131 



save sinners, — that lie rose again from the dead, — I am free from 
external vices, — I attend religious ordinances. What lack I yet? 
Am I not religious ?" No, my friends, this is not religion. It 
is good as far as it goes, but it is not enough. The devils believe 
as much as this, — and Simon Magus, while still in the gall of bit- 
terness, and the bond of iniquity, could say as much as this, and 
more. This kind of religion is fashionable enough, but true piety 
goes much farther, and is not so popular with all, or even with 
the greater part of men. It consists in a steady determination to 
renounce the vanities of the world, — to imitate Christ, — to do his 
will at all sacrifices, — to avoid all that is offensive to him, — to 
testify to the world his salvation, and its necessity, — and to perse- 
vere in all this, however the world may laugh. This kind of 
religion is not so popular, nor so common, and many who are 
open professors of religion, and some even who hold prominent 
stations in the church, would scorn to acknowledge such a faith. 
Yet it is a matter of imperative necessity, that all who wish to be 
saved, acknowledge such a faith, and act in accordance with its 
precepts. 

2. More particularly. The religion of Christ crucified has 
some disagreeable doctrines, such as the natural man does not 
and cannot receive. Among these is that of our total depravity. 
If the Bible, and particularly the New Testament teaches any- 
thing clearly, it is, that in us there is no good thing, — that we are 
polluted sinners in God's sight, — by nature the children of wrath, 
— out of favor — exposed, and that deservedly, to death, and the 
pains of hell forever. There is nothing in us acceptable to God, 
or worthy of eternal life. Men may be amiable, — men may be 
moral, — men may be like the young ruler Jesus loved, — but 
alas, apply the infallible touchstone to their cases, and it will 
be found that all have gone away backward, each in his own way. 
It is not much wonder that men dislike to be told these things. 
We think highly of ourselves, and love to think so ; but the re- 
ligion of Christ brings down all these high thoughts that exalt 
themselves against God. The doctrine of God's absolute sove- 
reignty, which the apostle so strongly sets forth, Eom. ix. is an- 
other that is very unpalatable to most persons. Men do not like 
to be told that God has the same power over them, that the pot- 
ter has over the clay, who makes one vessel to honor and another 
to dishonor. Oh how men will fight against this, especially as it 
is shown in the doctrines of election, of the duty of absolute sub- 



132 



CHEIST CRUCIFIED. 



mission to God, and some others of the same kind. The absolute 
insufficiency of our own righteousness is another part of the 
teachings of the Scripture, which finds little favor among men. 
A passion almost as strong as the love of life contends against it. 
It mortifies the pride of the heart. We would do anything, rather 
than own our sin, and accept of a free pardon, because we cannot 
buy the favor of God. If we could only deserve life. How con- 
vinced sinners stand and hesitate here ! What must I do to be 
saved ? Wherewith shall I come before God f But the answer still 
is, Believe and be saved. Acknowledge your guilt and helpless- 
ness, and accept of mercy as a pardoned rebel, for there is no 
other way. Men would willingly submit to any labor or offer 
any price, even to the fruit of their body, for the sin of their soul, 
— but to be saved in a way that exalts God, and humbles all the 
pride of man ! to come before him with ropes around the neck ! 
to kneel and say with the publican, God be merciful to me a sinner ! 
Even those whose hearts are changed by grace often find this a 
hard saying. But by the cross of Christ all boasting on our part 
is excluded. 

3. The religion of the cross of Christ requires the performance 
of many duties exceedingly irksome and painful to the natural 
desires. It requires those who embrace it to mortify every un- 
holy passion, and to forsake every vice. It requires a reforma- 
tion not merely of the outward conduct, but of the heart. It ex- 
tends its requisitions to your most secret thoughts, and requires 
you to be as free from sin, when no eye but the eye of God is 
upon you, as though your every thought were exposed to the 
gaze of assembled thousands. This is hard work. Sin has struck 
its roots deep into the heart, and it is hard to tear them away. 
You may lop some of its too luxuriant branches, — you may even 
fell the trunk, — but the living root remains, — and it is not till 
this is dug up and cast out, that you will have accomplished all 
that the Gospel demands. How extensive is this requirement ! 
It requires you to lay aside all anger, and guard carefully lest the 
sudden bursts of passion overcome you at an unexpected moment. 
It requires you to avoid all profane language, and never to speak 
the name of God except with reverence. To some men a harder 
command could hardly be conceived, for though there is no vice 
that has so little excuse, yet almost none is so hard to forsake, as 
that of profane swearing. People do not like to be told of their 
fault in this respect, and are apt to complain if a minister plainly 



CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 



133 



informs them of the wrath of God denounced against all who take 
his name in vain. All unchaste thoughts, words, and actions, 
must be avoided. Which of us would dare to expose all our 
thoughts even to our most intimate associates ? The Sabbath 
must be kept holy, even amidst all the temptations to break it. 
You are exposed to peculiar temptations at sea, for here, work 
must often be done that could be avoided on land. Hence it is 
natural that you should lose some of that reverence for it with 
which you were once, perhaps, accustomed to regard it. These, 
and many other faults, that must be avoided, are hard to be ab- 
stained from. Your very thoughts are full of sin, which must be 
mortified, — but this is not an easy work. It is very easy to fall 
into sin, — yes, even for those who are pressing upward, to fall 
back again. The best of men are like brands plucked from the 
burning, which easily take fire, if a single spark fall upon them ; 
but notwithstanding these difficulties, the command still is, Hate 
sin, pray against it, repent of it, watch, lest you be overtaken, — 
humble yourselves before God on account of it. Crucify the 
flesh, with its affections and lusts. Crucifixion is neither an easy 
nor a speedy death. This kind, as our Saviour said, goeth not 
out but by prayer and fasting. Now all such preaching is an of- 
fence and a stumbling-block to men. 

Yet not merely must sin be forsaken — not merely must we 
die unto sin — we must also live unto righteousness. The gospel 
commands the performance of every outward virtue, and Chris- 
tians are expressly said to be created anew unto good works, which 
God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. But not 
merely outward virtues are required. It is wonderful how prone 
men are to think that these are all. What would any of you 
give for the friendship and affection of another, which you knew 
was merely outward, and did not proceed from the heart ? Ho- 
liness of heart is the great thing. The Scribes and Pharisees 
were outwardly righteous ; nay, they were strict in observing all 
the law, but Christ Jesus solemnly declared, Except your righteous- 
ness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall 
in no case enter into the kingdom of God. These outward observ- 
ances are very well, in their place ; but there are closet duties, 
and heart duties, harder still, and yet more important. Keep the 
heart with all diligence. Imitate the example, the sinless pattern 
of Christ. Love all mankind, aye, even your bitterest enemies, 
and do them good as they have need and you have opportunity. 



134 



CHEIST CRUCIFIED. 



Deny yourselves even in things lawful, for the sake of others. 
Yisit the poor, and keep yourselves unspotted from the world. 
It may also be necessary for you, if you embrace the religion of 
Christ and him crucified, to forsake father and mother, and wife, 
and friends, and home, that you may honor him. This is a requi- 
sition that many have thought too hard to bear, but it is included 
in the terms of discipleship. 

And while doing and suffering all this, you must expect 
scorn, reproach, and contempt, from the world. You will be 
laughed at by some for your religion. You will be called 
moping and melancholy souls. You will be reviled by some, and 
tempted by others, who may wish to draw you off from such a 
course. Bodily persecution is hardly to be expected at present, 
but it may come, and must be endured if it does, for Christ 
requires the whole heart and the whole service at all times, — and 
he has assured us, that in the world ive shall have tribulation. 

Such are some of the unpleasant things in the religion we 
preach. Such are the terms we offer, and to multitudes they 
seem hard and intolerable. They were a stumbling-block to the 
Jews. They looked for a glorious earthly prince and kingdom. 
They desired honors, riches, ease, and pleasure. Behold ;what a 
contrast ! They looked for a constant succession of miracles and 
splendor, — and for a Messiah who should reign with worldly 
grandeur and renown ; and behold the author of this religion, 
living with the poor, a houseless homeless man, despised, re- 
proached, reviled, persecuted, and at last slain in weakness, — 
crucified with ignominy,- — and a similar lot awaiting all his fol- 
lowers. It was a stumbling-block to them. 

It was foolishness to the Greeks. Accustomed to displays of 
learning and eloquence, — fond of fine reasonings and airy specu- 
lations, — delighting in cunning subtleties and high- wrought sub- 
limities, — how could they bring down all their high thoughts and 
renounce all their boasted wisdom, in which they had so long 
trusted, and become like little children who need to be instructed 
in the first principles of truth and duty ? How could their proud 
philosophers give up their own systems of religion and trust to 
the humbling and despised way of God's devising ? They could 
not do it. It was foolishness to them, and when they heard of it, 
some mocked, others said we will hear thee again of this matter, while 
only a few believed. 

It is precisely so now. Christianity in our days meets the 



CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 



135 



same reception and rejection. Men would gladly be saved if it 
could be done in their own way. Some, like the Jews of old, 
look for various worldly honors, — they seek for ease and authority 
and the favor of men. Like By-Ends, in the Pilgrim's Progress, 
they are very willing to walk with religion, in his silver-slippers, 
when the sun shines and the people praise him, but they are not 
so willing to walk with him, in rags and disfavor. Others, like 
the Greeks, of a more literary turn, find abundant reason for dis- 
content in the humbling nature of the doctrines taught. They 
seek for intellectual gratifications. They have great ideas of the 
nobleness of the human mind. They are disgusted to find that 
all their wisdom is of no avail, and that they must become as 
little children, feeling and confessing their ignorance. How it 
humbles the pride of human wisdom to find that even the fool 
may be saved, while some of the wisest of men perish in the 
fancied conceit of their own wisdom. To all such, and it is a 
melancholy fact, that even in Christian lands they form a large 
majority, the preaching of Christ crucified is an offence. To some 
it is a stumbling-block — to others it is foolishness — and both 
alike, despise and reject this plan of salvation. They see no 
beauty in it, they feel no desires to enjoy it, they are blind and 
cannot see, — for the natural man receiveth not the things of the 
Spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually 
discerned. 

II. But all are not thus blind. There are many who look upon 
the doctrine of the cross in a very different light. While they 
see and feel all these difficulties already spoken of, they also see 
in this despised cross, beauties and treasures which the world sees 
not. The reason is, that their eyes are opened to discern spiritual 
things. You may imagine an ointment which being applied to 
the eye will enable one to see all the treasures hidden in the 
bowels of the earth and the caverns of the sea ; but those who are 
called of God have their eyes anointed with an eye-salve that has 
more than imaginary power. That only showed illusions to the 
eye, but this discloses realities richer far than the heart of man 
ever conceived of. This spiritual ointment consists in the gift of 
faith, which is bestowed upon all who truly desire it. To all who 
possess it, Christ Jesus, even as crucified, no longer appears as a 
stumbling-block, and foolishness. On the contrary they see in 
him and his religion the power and the wisdom of God. "What- 
ever controversy there be among true Christians, on other points, 



136 



CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 



they all agree in this, to exalt Christ to the highest throne, and 
worship him with the lowliest reverence. To them he displays 
the power and wisdom of God, and they see more excellency and 
majesty in him, than in all the splendors of this world; a bright- 
ness above the sun's noon-day beams, and far transcending the 
glories of the starry heavens. 

The Jews sought for signs, and displays of power and majesty. 
To say nothing of all the miracles wrought by Christ during his 
life-time, what power could be greater than that displayed in 
raising him from the dead, when the wickedness of man, and the 
malice of Satan had conspired to keep him there? What a power 
is this, which vanquishes all the hosts of hell, and rescues Satan's 
captives from his very jaws ! Which meets and bears the anger 
of a justly incensed God, — pays a full ransom for the souls of 
men, — and says to the trembling and condemned prisoners, Go 
forth, for no power in heaven or beneath it shall ever harm you! 
What a power is this which enables sinful men to maiotain a long 
and successful warfare against the wickedness of their own 
hearts, and the temptations of Satan, and to come off conquerors 
and more than conquerors through him that hath loved them ! 
Surely never was there such an array of formidable obstacles as 
opposed the salvation of man. There was the Justice of God 
with his naming sword and righteous demands ; there was Satan 
and all his hosts, a strong man armed, and Legion at his back ; 
there was the world and its thousand charms ; there was the des- 
perate wickedness of the human heart, which none but God fully 
knows. Yet against all these did the Son of God go forth alone. 
Long and fearful was the conflict. It cost him tears and groans, 
and life itself — but he overcame all obstacles and gained the vic- 
tory. He secured our salvation, blotting out the handwriting of 
ordinances, that was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing 
it unto his cross, Col. ii. 14. We wish for no stronger displays of 
power than are here afforded. 

The Greeks sought after wisdom, and because the cross hum- 
bled the pride of human wisdom, they hastily rejected it. Yet 
in the cross alone is true wisdom to be found. For many centuries 
together the wisest of the ancient sages had been seeking after 
the chief road, — but with all their searches never found it. The 
cross of Christ revealed it, and the way of obtaining it. — The 
Christian religion, of which the cross is the centre, finds man in a 
state of ignorance, helplessness and danger, and it offers a remedy 



CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 



137 



precisely suited to his case. It finds us ignorant of the character 
of God, and it sets before us his true nature, as a God just, and 
yet merciful ; a God who will by no means clear the guilty, and 
who yet is willing to send his own Son to die for them. It finds 
us condemned sinners, and unable to devise a way of obtaining 
the favor of God. What nation is there, that has of itself found 
out how God might be just and yet justify the ungodly? It 
comes and tells us that the justice of God is satisfied, and the 
ransom is fully paid. It gives us full assurance that his justice 
will not destroy us, but that he will be gracious notwithstanding 
our many sins. What matter if the remedy thus found contains 
some things unpleasant to our natural desires ? How could it be 
otherwise ? A sick man does not refuse healing medicines because 
the taste is bitter ; and shall we refuse to be saved in the only 
way that salvation is procurable, because in some things it contra- 
dicts the desires of our hearts, and is unpleasant to the corruptions 
that still abide with us ? No. We do not want that which will 
merely tickle our ears, and please our fancy — we want that which 
shall save the perishing soul. The cross of Christ alone, can effect 
this, for there is none other name given under heaven among men 
whereby ice must he saved, hut the name of Jesus Christ. 

We want a motive to urge us on in the performance of diffi- 
cult duties. We have it in the cross of Christ. In times of 
difficulty and of trial, we want a shelter. Where shall we find it 
but in the cross ? The serpent-bitten Israelites could find no re- 
lief except by gazing at the brazen serpent on a pole ; and we 
can obtain no help, except by looking unto him who was lifted 
up, that he might draw all men unto him. Notwithstanding the 
offence of the cross therefore, we still glory in it, and embrace it 
most gladly. God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, This it is that satisfies all our wants. Wis- 
dom, and goodness, and love, and mercy, shine conspicuous here. 

Oh the sweet wonders of that cross 

"Where Jesus loved and died ; 
Her noblest life my spirit draws 

From his dear wounds and bleeding side. 

Macao, January 21, 1844. 



SEKMON XVI 



HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 
That which is born of the flesh, is flesh. — John iii. 6. 

It was the remark of a profound thinker, " Nothing in nature 
is more unknown to man than himself." He searches everything, 
but passes by himself. It is said of the eye, that it sees every- 
thing but itself, and the same might be said of man himself. 

Yet all men confess the importance, and admit the benefits 
of self-knowledge. The very heathen said, that the maxim 
"Know thyself," contained such a weight of meaning, that it 
must have descended from heaven. Why, then, this acknowl- 
edged ignorance of what all admit to be important and beneficial ? 
It probably arises from the fact that self-knowledge is difficult to 
obtain, and is frequently painful when obtained. We love to 
think highly of ourselves, but this we cannot do, if we truly 
know our own character. It is only the fool who trumpets his 
own praise abroad. Yet difficult as this knowledge is to obtain, 
and painful as it is when acquired, it is so valuable both for this 
life, and the life to come, that no pains should be spared to ob- 
tain it ; and it should be a motive to our exertions that we have 
such excellent helps to enable us to do so. We have the expe- 
rience of those who have gone before us, and especially, we have 
the Holy Scriptures, that infallible mirror in which our true 
character is so faithfully reflected. Above all, let us study the 
words of Jesus Christ. Of him it is said, that he knew what was in 
man, John ii. 25, and therefore could not be deceived in the 
judgments he formed. And as he came from heaven with a 
heart overflowing with love to man, and seeking our best good, it 
must be supposed that he would say nothing without the fullest 
conviction of its truth, and suitableness to our wants. You may 
hesitate to believe the declarations of men, for they may be inca- 



HUMAN NATURE COEEUPT AND SINFUL. 139 

pable of judging correctly, or prejudice, or ill will may lead them 
to pervert the truth. But none will say that our blessed Saviour 
could be guilty of either of these. What then is his opinion of 
the nature of man ? You have it in the words of the text, That 
which is born of the flesh, is flesh. He is describing to an anxious 
inquirer the character of man, and the way of life, and in so 
doing, he advances this proposition, which all admit, that like be- 
gets like. As is the nature of the parent, such is the nature of 
the child. What then does he mean by the word flesh? This 
question is easily answered. In the immediate context, he con- 
trasts the flesh with the Spirit. The Spirit is the Holy Grhost, 
the author of holiness, the flesh, therefore, must be that corrupt 
nature from which sin proceeds. The apostle Paul confirms this 
view, in Gal. v. 19-22, when he says, Now the ivorks of the flesh 
are manifest, which are these : adultery, fornication, uncleanness, las- 
civiousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, ^emulations, ivrath, 
strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, 
and such like. The words of Christ to Nicodemus therefore, con- 
tain a general declaration that human nature is corrupt and sinful. 
This declaration may be amplified in the three following propo- 
sitions : — 

I. All men are sinners. 

II. All men are sinners by nature. 

III. All men are totally depraved. 

I. All mankind are sinners. This is a truth so plain, that few 
are so hardy as to deny it. Who has ever, in any age or in any 
land, seen a perfect man ? Who does not laugh at the preten- 
sions of those who call themselves perfectionists, and profess to 
have attained a state of perfect purity ? You have heard of the 
ancient philosopher, who lighted his lamp, and scrutinized the 
1 countenances of all he met, and when he was asked why he did 
so, replied, "I am seeking for an honest man." He sought, but 
he returned to his house, without accomplishing the object of his 
search. 

What saith the Scriptures? David says, The Lord looked down 
from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did 
understand and seek God, They are all gone aside, they are all together 
become filthy ; there is none that doeth good, no, not one, Ps. xiv. 2, 3. 
The apostle Paul had occasion once to examine the character of 
the whole human race, and what was his conclusion ? Were 
there any free from sin ? Were there any who could say, " Stand 



140 HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 



by, for I am holier than thou?" No, in no wise; for we have before 
proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin ; and again, 
yet more emphatically, There is no difference, for all have sinned, 
and come short of the glory of God, Eom. iii. 9, 23. 

But why multiply quotations, when the truth of what is said 
is admitted by all ? A sinner myself, I am addressing an audi- 
ence, each one of whom admits that he also is a sinner, in God's 
sight, and his own. Solemn confession ! How must that God 
who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, look upon us ? With what 
feelings must the sinless angels of heaven look upon us ? With 
what feelings should we view ourselves, who have received at 
the Lord's hand nothing but good, and yet have requited his 
goodness by sinning against him ? 

II. But the words of Christ mean something more than that 
we are simply sinners. We needed no revelation to teach what 
universal experience has made so plain. That which is bom of the 
flesh, is flesh. When is it flesh ? Is there ever a time, when it 
can be said of that which is born of the flesh, it is not flesh f 
Surely not. Therefore, Christ teaches that, from the first moment 
of man's existence, he is a sinful being ; nor is there ever a time, 
from the moment that he comes naked into the world, till he 
leaves it in equal nakedness, that he is not a sinful being. Very 
explicit is the testimony of Scripture on this point. God said to 
Noah, The imagination of maris heart is evil from his youth, Gen. 
viii. 21. And is it not so ? We hear much of the innocence of 
childhood, but who does not know, that, long before children 
learn to speak, they exhibit evil dispositions, and unkind tempers ? 
Is not foolishness bound up in the heart of a child ? Hear David's 
heartfelt confession. He had sinned a great sin, and when his eyes 
were opened, his heart melted with sorrow, and he looked over all 
his past life. Did he find any time when he could say, " Though 
I have now sinned so grievously, yet once I was not a sinner?" 
Far from it. Behold, I was shaken in iniquity, and in sin did my 
mother conceive me, Ps. li. 5. The apostle Paul says, By nature we 
are the children of wrath, Eph. ii. 3. By nature, is by birth ; it is 
our natural condition ; we come into the world exposed to the 
wrath of God. But how so, if our natures at birth are free from 
sin? The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all 
ungodliness ; but the soul that is free from sin, is not obnoxious 
to wrath. Therefore, from the apostle's words we lawfully infer, 
that as by nature we are subject to God's wrath, by nature we are 



HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 



141 



sinful, and deserve his wrath. How can it be otherwise ? Being 
sinners ourselves, how can our children be holy ? Who can bring 
a clean thing out of an unclean t not one. Job xiv. 4. When Adam 
fell, he lost the image of God, in which he was created, and begat 
a son in his own image and likeness. That image and likeness 
was full of sin, and after the same image, all his posterity are 
born. Is not death the wages of sin ? Did ever any sinless being 
die, except the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of others ? 
But, alas ! how many infants are laid in the tomb ! Like the 
spring flower, they fade away. 

This is a very painful thought. Mother, delighting in your 
child's playfulness, can you bear to think that sin lies beneath it 
all? Can you bear the thought, that, as it grows up, it will 
exhibit unholy passions, and be like all that have gone before it, 
a sinner against God ? But, painful as the thought may be, it is 
not less true. Even now, are you not startled by seeing the bud- 
dings of evil in their infant actions ? Whence these evil disposi- 
tions, that so soon show themselves, and so long resist the efforts 
to correct them ? They do not come from example, for with the 
best of examples you see them. They do not come from precept, 
for they are shown long before precepts are understood. The 
only explanation is found in the melancholy words of our text, 
That which is born of the flesh, is flesh. 

III. Melancholy as are these truths, that all men are sinners, 
and sinners from their birth, they do not exhaust the meaning of 
the words of Christ. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh. Good 
cannot come from evil, nor can the sinful flesh give birth to that 
which is spiritual and holy. This declaration of our Saviour 
therefore asserts that all men are totally depraved, and possess no 
one trait that can secure God's favor, and avert his wrath. I am 
aware that many will deny this, and say that Christ's words are 
not susceptible of such a meaning. Let us sincerely hear what is 
to be said on either side. 

1. Before the flood, God saw that the wickedness of man was great 
upon the earth ; and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, 
was only evil continually, Gen. vi. 5. This is the character of the 
race, and the only exception was Noah, whose heart had been 
changed by divine grace. Solomon, the wisest of men, speaking 
by inspiration of God, said, The heart of the sons of men is full 
of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, Ecc. ix. 3. 
Here, also, there is no exception. Still stronger are the oft- 



142 



HUMAN NATUEE COEEUPT AND SINFUL. 



quoted words of Jeremiah, the prophet. The heart is deceitful 
above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Jer. 
xvii. 9. Yet more pointed are the words of Paul, who tells us, 
that all men are dead in trespasses and in sins, Eph. ii. 1-8. 
Dead ! Then there is no life, there is no holiness ; all is sin, and 
only sin. As if to preclude all possible doubt as to the mind of 
the Spirit of God on this point, this same apostle, a man than 
whom no holier ever lived, tells us from his own deep experi- 
ence, i" know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing, 
Eom. vii. 18. 

JSTo forms of expression could be devised to declare more 
clearly than these do, that in the eye of God we are all sinners ; 
sinners from the womb, and totally sinful. I know it is objected 
that many persons, who make no pretensions to piety, possess 
very amiable qualities. Are these qualities sinful? By no 
means. Yet neither are they holy. It is a matter of great re- 
joicing that these amiable qualities do exist, and we may justly 
take pleasure in those who possess them. A rich young man 
came once to Christ for instructions, and displayed so much humil- 
ity and amiableness, that Jesus loved him, Mark x. 21. Yet it 
was concerning him, that Jesus said, It is easier for a camel to go 
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the king- 
dom of God. These amiable qualities that we possess are merely 
natural qualities, without which society and man could not exist ; 
but they have no moral excellence in them. We should be mon- 
sters without them, and with them are only men. You talk of 
the beauty of maternal affection, and the devotion of a mother to 
her child. The same is seen in the beasts of prey. You talk of 
the noble disposition of one, and the gratitude of another, and the 
filial affection of a third — but are not all these qualities seen in 
the brute creation ? It is true they are seen in greater perfection, 
and fuller development in man, but only because his nature is 
more exalted. And how often is it seen that these and all other 
excellent qualities are found existing, not only with forgetfulness 
of God, but with also absolute hatred of him ? What is more lovely 
than friendship, or productive of purer happiness? But, alas, 
Herod and Pilate became friends on the day that Christ was con- 
demned to the cross ; and Voltaire, and Diderot, and others were 
united in friendship, that they might crush the wretch, as they 
blasphemously called our Lord. The Gipsy mother sedulously 
preserves her daughter's chastity, but in the same breath sends 



HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 



143 



her forth to steal, while herself will pander for the vilest vices of 
those she hates. 

These natural qualities that many possess are amiable indeed, 
but they should not influence us to think otherwise than the 
Bible teaches. 

Yery painful are the truths I have declared. But they are 
plainly taught in the Scriptures, and too sadly confirmed by all 
human experience ; nor is it any want of charity to think, as 
Christ thought on such points. It is the best of men, who are 
most deeply convinced of their truth, and if all men were honest 
all would feel them. Oh that men would but honestly consider 
this matter, as they will one day do. Separate yourselves awhile 
from the world. Commune with your own hearts and with 
God, and ask yourselves how he regards you. Take his law, 
and ponder deeply its length and its breadth. Bring your own 
hearts and past lives to the test of that word which is quick 
and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing 
even to the dividing of soul and spirit. Ask yourselves, and re- 
member when you answer, that you answer for eternity. "Which 
of God's laws have I ever perfectly obeyed ? He has said, Thou 
shalt have no other Gods before me. Has he then reigned supreme 
in your hearts? Has the desire to please him been so constant, 
and so strong, that it has never given way to the fear of man, or 
the love of a creature ? And that even self-love has yielded to the 
fear of God ? Whoever else can answer these questions satisfac- 
torily, I cannot. In what action of your whole lives, have you 
served God, without any intermixture of sin ? You have come to 
the house of God You have read his word, perhaps in secret 
prayer you have called on his name ; in doing all this, did you 
find no wandering thought intrude ? Did no selfish purpose min- 
gle with your wishes ? Did no irreverent or worldly imagination 
pollute the prayer you offered? Have you studied the law of 
God in its strictness and purity, reaching as it does not merely 
to your outward actions, but to your inward thoughts — to the idle 
words of your mouths, and the affections of the soul ; and can 
you say, In all this I have not sinned ? Alas you cannot say 
this, for in the words of the apostle, What things so ever the law 
saith, it saith to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be 
stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, Kom. iii. 19. 
Are these things so ? Judge ye, of what has been said. I have 
sought to speak according to that word by which we must all be 



144 HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 



judged at last. It is not pleasant to speak thus, but it is better to 
hear even humbling doctrines now, than to stand in confusion be- 
fore the bar of God. Conceal the truth as we may, forget its mor- 
tifications, as for a while we may, it is certain that we are the 
members of a race that has gone very far from God, and the ways 
of holiness. It is therefore our duty to bow down before God 
with deep shame and sorrow, acknowledging that we are the de- 
scendants of an apostate family, the seed of an unclean race, our- 
selves unclean. But oh, with how much shame should such a 
confession fill us. Among men, traitors and the children of trai- 
tors, are objects of reproach and contempt ; but how much more 
do we deserve rebuke who have sinned against a God of infinite 
goodness. With innumerable mercies he crowns our lives, with 
tender compassion he spares us, with infinite condescension and 
grace, he entreats us to return and accept his love. But alas, our 
first father sinned, and we have added to his transgressions, and 
our children follow our example ! Hear, oh heavens, and give ear 
oh earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up 
children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his 
owner and the ass his master's crib ; but Israel doth not know, my 
people doth not consider, Is. i. 2, 3. 

2. Can we wonder then, when all have thus sinned, that all 
should be called upon to repent ? It was the main subject of the 
preaching of John the Baptist. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven 
is at hand. It was the first preaching of Christ himself, and it 
was the command he left to his disciples, to preach in his name, 
repentance, and the remission of sins. You have sinned against 
God, and therefore should repent. The longer you have been 
sinning, the louder is the call and the more imperative the neces- 
sity for repentance and a change of heart. It needs no labored 
argument to prove that hearts such as ours cannot enjoy heaven 
unless changed by grace. Even were it possible to enter heaven 
with hearts unchanged, we should find no heaven there, for sin 
would change the waters of the river of life into gall. But let no 
man flatter himself with the hope of heaven without repentance, 
and a new heart. He who never spake an idle word, and whose 
words shall stand when the heavens and the earth shall have 
passed away, has assured us of the contrary. Verily, verily, I say 
unto thee, except a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot 
enter into the kingdom of God, John iii. 5. What though the num- 
ber of transgressors be as numerous as the sand on the sea-shore, 



HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 



145 



this will afford no security to any one of them all. It is vain to 
say, " I am no worse than my neighbors, and if I am lost, what 
shall become of the rest of the world ?' 7 There is sometimes rea- 
son in such an excuse in human government, for they are short- 
sighted and weak, and often can neither detect the guilty, nor 
punish them when discovered. The multitude of evil-doers may 
sometimes secure impunity among men, but in the just government 
of God, the wicked shall be turned into hell, even all the nations that 
forget God, Ps. ix. 17. Except ye repent therefore, ye shall all likewise 
■perish, and no man when the consciousness that he is lost forever, 
first bursts upon him will say, "I am unjustly condemned/' 

3. In what has been said of the character of human nature, we 
rind a ready reason for all the wickedness of men. We are so 
accustomed to the sinfulness of the world, that ordinary displays 
of guilt do not surprise us. We look on them as matters of 
course. But occasionally deeds of fearful wickedness surprise us, 
or deep-laid schemes of appalling iniquity are displayed to the 
public gaze, and we wonder how men could be so depraved ; oc- 
casionally, too, our hearts are crushed within us, at the fall of 
some from whom we had expected better things. Who was not 
horrified at the disclosures made a few years since of the system- 
atic robberies and murders of the Thugs in India ? Whose heart 
does not bleed at the enormous atrocities of the slave-trade? 
Who does not mourn to find that David, the man after God's 
own heart, in an evil hour seduced the wife of his brave Uriah, 
and to conceal his guilt, procured his murder ? Melancholy in- 
deed are these facts. But are they not the legitimate fruits of 
the nature we. carry within us ? How can a corrupt tree bring 
forth other than corrupt fruit ? And if God withdraw the re- 
straints of his grace and providence, who shall say where human 
wickedness shall stop ? Let every man then guard his own heart. 
Let every man pray to God, that he may not fall, and let no man 
trust to his own unaided strength ; for that which is bom of the 
flesh is flesh, and every one of us, if left to himself, may equal or 
exceed the sins that disfigure the lives of those who have most 
deeply sinned. 

4. Finally, I may remark, that the more we know of our own 
hearts, the more shall we admire the grace of God in having had 
compassion on us : and the more shall we value the salvation of 
Ohrist, that delivers us not only from the punishment of our sins, 
but from their defilements. Surely it was wonderful grace. God 

10 



146 



HUMAN NATURE CORRUPT AND SINFUL. 



saw us in our sins, and there was nothing in us he could love. 
True, we were his creatures, but we had forfeited his favor by our 
sins, and said, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge 
of thy ways. God was not in all our thoughts. He might have 
lifted his rod and destroyed us forever. But no, God commendeth 
his love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for as. 
He hath counted no sacrifice that infinite power and love could 
make, too great to show us his love, and save us from our clan- 
ger. And what a salvation it is! Satan like a strong man 
armed claimed us for his lawful captives. Justice demanded sat- 
isfaction for God's broken law, and our sins had entwined them- 
selves with every fibre of the heart, and sat enthroned in every 
affection of the soul. From all these doth Christ deliver us. To 
the flaming sword of Justice he presented his own side. Against 
the malice of Satan he contended alone, and having vanquished 
him, he led captivity captive. He sets up his throne in the 
hearts of his people, and surely, though gradually, destroys the 
power of every sin, and at last presents them spotless in the pres- 
ence of God with exceeding joy. Thanks be unto God for his un- 
speakable gift. 

Macao, January 28, 1844. 



SERMON XVII. 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 

From that time forth, began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go 
unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and 
scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. — Matt. xvi. 21. 

We estimate love by the sacrifices it makes, and guilt by the 
punishment it requires. It was Christ's love to the human race 
that induced him to die for us ; it was the sinfulness of the human 
race that made his death necessary. Let us consider the cir- 
cumstances of his death, and the sufferings he endured, and 
thereby we may add definiteness to our views of the depth of his 
love, and the magnitude of our guilt. It is a simple narration of 
facts, to which your attention is' now called, and the nature of the 
subject forbids either exaggeration or coloring. 

We are apt to think of Christ's sufferings only as connected 
with his death. But they did not begin when he was nailed to 
the cross. All his life he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted 
with grief. I would not say, as some have said, that he never 
smiled, but certainly, in reading his history, we are often called 
to witness scenes of sorrow, seldom those of joy. But it is not 
intended now to dwell on the scenes of his early life, nor even to 
glance over the sufferings he experienced, from hunger and 
thirst, from fatigue and wandering, from temptations of Satan, 
and sinfulness of men, from the follies of his disciples, and the 
blasphemies of the Jews. Let us in thought attend those painful 
steps, which in the close of his life he took for us. 

1. It should not be forgotten, in considering what Christ 
endured, that all his sufferings were foreseen. Even before his 
transfiguration, he had minutely foretold every circumstance of 
shame and sorrow. During all his life, the cross had cast its 
shadow in his path, and the nearer he drew, the darker that 



148 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 



shadow became. Foreseen evil is evil itself, and though we 
earnestly desire to know the future, yet in mercy that knowledge 
is withheld, for who is there that could sustain the prospect of all 
the ills that are sure to meet on every child of Adam ? Christ 
possessed a nature like our own, and his accurate knowledge of 
what should befall him must have saddened many a passing hour. 
It did not tempt him to swerve from his course, but it tinged 
with gloom his thoughts of the future. Why else was it, that 
once, when surrounded by an admiring crowd, he suddenly ex- 
claimed, Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ? Father, 
save me from this hour, John xii. 27. 

2. Nor should it be forgotten, that, just before his last period 
of suffering, he had been received with great applause. He had 
entered Jerusalem in triumph, the multitude had met him with 
palm-branches, and spreading of garments in the way, and all the 
city was moved at his coming, Matt. xxi. 4-11. But in a few 
days, all was changed, and he who had entered in triumph, and 
ruled in the temple, was led forth in shame, with none to defend 
him. It was a great reverse, — not unexpected, it is true, but none 
the less painful, for these were the people he came to save, and 
this was the fickleness with which they received him. 

3. The last scenes of the tragedy commenced on Thursday 
night. His disciples had made ready the paschal supper, and, 
with the twelve apostles, he sat down to eat that passover which 
with desire he had desired to eat with them before he suffered, Luke 
xxii. 15. It was then that he instituted the Lord's Supper, 
charging them to observe it in remembrance of him — of his body 
which was to be broken, and his blood which was to be shed for 
them. It was night. Already had Judas consulted to betray 
him, Luke xxii. 4, and, seated with him at his table, he now 
sought opportunity to accomplish his purpose. Miserable man ! 
He nattered himself that his guilt was unknown, but Christ knew 
it all, and, giving him the sop, said, That thou doest, do quickly. 
And after the sop, Satan entered into him, and he went out, John 
xiii. 26, 30. He had been with Christ, had seen his humility, 
his piety, his love, his compassion, — and now to betray him, and 
that for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave ! A goodly 
price at which he valued his master ! How was it possible to be 
guilty of such a crime ? God had abandoned him, and Satan, the 
master of all evil, had seized him for his own. It seems as 
though, on this occasion, the devil would trust none of his ordi- 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 



nary agents of evil. On all other occasions when evil spirits had 
taken possession of men, they vrere inferior angels, — but on this 
occasion, when the Prince of life was to be assailed, none but the 
prince of darkness must do it, and Satan himself entered into Judas 
Iscariot, John xiii. 27. Christ was aware of all the wickedness of 
Judas' heart, but had still kept him around him, and even treated 
him with distinguished favor. It was with no ordinary sorrow, 
that he now saw him, who had eaten of his bread, lift up his heel 
against him. But whatever his thoughts were, they altered not 
that pure, unquenchable love that burned in his heart. Judas went 
out. but he looked on his remaining disciples, and he spoke those 
words of surpassing affection, and uttered that memorable prayer, 
which the beloved disciple has recorded at length. His own 
heart was full of sorrow, but he saw the sorrow of his disciples' 
hearts, and said, Let not your hearts be troubled. Peace Heave with 
you, I will not leave you comfortless. I will come unto you. 

4. The evening was wearing away, but sleep had forever fled 
from the eyes of Christ. Sorrows now filled his heart, the world 
knew not of. It was the crisis of the world's redemption, and all 
depended on him, but surely so great a work could not be accom- 
plished without exertions and sacrifices equal to its greatness. 
He went forth from that supper table with his disciples to the 
garden of Grethsemane, whither he had often resorted, John 
xviii. 1. It was there a scene was witnessed, which angels beheld 
with wonder. He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, and said, 
My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matt. xxvi. 37, 38. 
Having cautioned his disciples, he withdrew and prayed. It was 
his hour of agony, but who shall disclose to us the nature of his 
sufferings ? It could not have been that he feared the bodily 
sufferings of the cross. Many of his disciples have, since his 
time, endured as great bodily sufferings as those of Christ, and 
that without shrinking or fear. It was not the fear of what man 
could do that afflicted him. It was heart-sorrow that bowed him 
to the ground. It was because the light of God's countenance 
was removed, and the sense of his wrath pressed upon him, that 
he suffered so much. The Lord spared him not, though he was 
his beloved Son. He laid on him the iniquity of us all It pleased the 
Lord to bruise him. He put him to grief and made his soul an offer- 
ing for sin, Is. liii. 6, 10. An angel was sent from heaven to 
strengthen him, for he was in an agony, and his sweat was, as it 
w&re, great drops of blood falling down to the ground, Luke xxii. 



150 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 



43, 44. Again, and yet again, did he pray, that, if possible, the 
cup might pass from him ; but it was not possible, for if it had, 
the hope of man's redemption would have ceased forever ; and 
therefore, with submission, he added, Not my will, but thine be 
clone, Luke xxii. 42. 

5. How long this solemn scene continued, we are not in- 
formed ; but it was suddenly and rudely interrupted by a crowd 
of men, coming as if against a thief, with swords and with staves 
to take him. Our Lord went forth to meet them, and received 
the treacherous kiss with which Judas pointed him out. He 
spoke no word of anger, but in sorrow he said, Judas, hetrayest 
thou the Son of man with a hiss f Luke xxii. 48. 

At first his disciples were disposed to resist, but Jesus re- 
strained them, and healed the wound that one of them had already 
inflicted. It was the hour and the power of darkness, and fear 
entered the hearts of his disciples. A few hours before, they had 
all protested that they were ready to die for him, but now they 
all forsook him and fled, and Jesus was left alone. 

6. Betrayed by one of his disciples, forsaken by the rest, and 
in the power of a band of armed men, he was led by them to the 
high priest's house ; not to find a sanctuary in the house of the 
minister of religion, but to experience renewed indignities. The 
underlings of the high priest mocked him and smote him ; 
they blindfolded him and struck him on the face, and many 
things they blasphemously spake against him, Luke xxii. 63-65. 
It was during this time that Peter, who had followed afar off, was 
now in the common hall, where Jesus was kept ; and there, once 
and again, denied that he knew him. It was in the hearing of 
the Saviour that he did so, and immediately while he yet spake, the 
cock crew, and the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, Luke 
xxii. 61. 

ISTo rest was allowed to Christ. In sorrow and tumult, in bitter 
mockery, and }^et more painful denial, he passed the night,, and 
as soon as it ivas day, the elders of the people, and the chief priests, 
and the scribes came together, and he was called before them, 
Luke xxii. 66. Why dwell on what passed there ? With taunts 
and insults, and smiting of the hands — with false witness and 
charges of blasphemy — with buffeting and spitting, from which 
he hid not his face, they judged him worthy of death, Matt. xxvi. 
59-68. John xviii. 22. 

7. But though they condemned him, they had not power to 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 



151 



execute their sentence ; they were a Eoman province, and it was 
not lawf ul for them to put any man to death, John xviii. 31. They 
speedily ended their council, for at daylight they had come to- 
gether, and it ivas yet early when they led him to the judgment 
hall of Pilate, John xviii. 28. But how should they obtain from 
Pilate the sentence they desired ? The blasphemy with which 
they charged Jesus, and for which they judged him worthy of 
death, was not a capital offence by the Eoman law. But they 
knew with whom they had to deal, and having no other resource, 
determined to work on the fears of the craven-spirited governor, 
and obtain by tumult what justice would deny. 

They brought him to Pilate — but it was a feast day, and 
fearing defilement if they entered the house of a heathen, they 
would not enter the judgment-hall ! John xviii. 28. They came 
to put an innocent man to death, on a false charge of blasphemy, 
and yet were afraid of a ceremonial defilement. Was there ever 
a greater mockery, or a keener grief than this ? The very Being 
who had given them their law — who had said, Thou shalt not kill, 
and also had commanded them to observe the ceremonial rites, 
was now in their power, and how did they treat him ? They dis- 
regarded his most solemn injunctions, but carefully observed the 
most insignificant matters. Tithers of mint and anise and cummin, 
they set at naught the weightier matters of the law, judgment and 
mercy ! They feared to defile their bodies by neglect of a cere- 
mony, but feared not to defile their souls with shedding the blood 
of him, of whom all their ceremonies spoke ! 

Pilate came out to them, and demanding of what they accused 
him, they concealed their real charge, and falsely accused him of 
treason — saying that he perverted the nation, and forbade to give 
tribute to Caesar, claiming to be himself an anointed king, Luke 
xxiii. 2. Pilate must have heard of Christ, and knowing the 
charge to be false, after a brief examination said, I find no fault in 
him, Luke xxiii. 4. They reiterated their charge, fiercely ex- 
claiming, that he was guilty of seditious practices, and stirred up 
the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to 
Jerusalem, Luke xxiii. 5. Pilate, seeking to avoid the unpleasant 
office of condemning an innocent man, sent him to Herod. By 
him he was set at naught and mocked — in scorn he arrayed him 
in a gorgeous robe, and sent him back to Pilate. His blood- 
thirsty accusers were there again. Pilate remonstrated with 
them. He had found no fault in the man — no — nor yet Herod, 



152 THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 

for nothing worthy of death was found in him. He was willing to 
gratify them so far as to scourge him — though even this would have 
been unjust. But this was not what they wanted ; and they all 
cried out at once — Away with this man, and release unto us Ba- 
rabbas, who, for sedition and murder, was cast into prison, Luke xxiii. 
13-19. Pilate still wished to release him, and hoping to move 
them to some compassion, commanded him to be scourged ; the 
soldiers crowned him with thorns, and clothing him in a purple 
robe, with a reed for a sceptre, they bowed the knee in scorn, and 
buffeted him. In this pitiable state, with bleeding brows, and 
lacerated by the scourge, wearing the crown of thorns and the 
purple robe, he led him forth and said, Behold the man, John 
xix. 1-5. But the sight only heightened their rage, and again the 
cry arose to heaven, Crucify him, crucify him, and they added, that 
he was a blasphemer and deserved to die, because he had made himself 
the Son of God. Pilate, already convinced of his innocence, was 
yet the more afraid when he heard that, John xix. 8 ; and in- 
fluenced by his wife's dream, who sent to him to have nothing to 
do with that just man, Matt, xxvii. 19, he sought yet again to de- 
liver him from their hands, John xix. 7-12. The morning was 
wearing away, and the Jews fearing lest their prey should at last 
escape, brought forward their strongest charge. If thou let this 
man go, thou art not Caesar's friend. This decided the case. Pilate 
would be just, if he could be without inconvenience to himself ; 
but if the administration of justice should endanger him with the 
emperor he would none of it ; and after a faint remonstrance, Shall 
1 crucify your Icing, John xii. 15 ; he gave sentence that it should be as 
they required • and he released unto them him that for sedition and 
murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired, but he delivered 
Jesus to their will, and they led him away to be crucified, Luke xxiii. 
24-26. 

8. Their object was gained. On Thursday the Lord had 
walked in the streets of Jerusalem free, but his hour was come. 
His own disciple betrayed him, and that night they seized him 
in the garden of Gethsemane. No rest was allowed him, and 
when Friday morning dawned, he was led to the Jewish council, 
and thence to the Eoman judgment-seat. From Pilate he went 
to Herod, and Herod sent him back to Pilate. He was mocked 
and scourged, and condemned, and all before the sun had reached 
the half of its meridian height. 

Having obtained judgment against him, they lost no time in 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHEIST. 



153 



carrying it into execution. It was the custom for the condemned 
to bear his own cross, and Jesus hearing his cross, went forth into 
a place called the Place of a shall, John xix. 17. But fainting 
with watching and sufTering he sunk beneath its weight, and they 
compelled one Simon, a Cyrenian, to bear it after him, Luke xxiii. 
20. Thus he went, bearing, but not for himself, the anger of 
(rod, the rage of men, and the malice of devils. Surely hell from 
beneath was moved to meet him at his coming, and heaven from 
above stooped down to gaze on the scene. A crowd of people 
and of women followed, bewailing and lamenting him; but the 
heart that ever forgot its own grief to minister to those of others, 
still beat within him, and he turned and said, Daughters of Jerusa- 
lem, weep not for me, hut iveep for yourselves and for your children, 
Luke xxiii. 27, 28. They came to Calvary, and there they cruci- 
fied him. The shape of the cross you all know. It was laid upon 
the ground and the criminal fastened to it by nails driven through 
the hands and the feet. It was then lifted up ; and suffered to fall 
into the hole dug for it, which it did with a shock that racked the 
whole body, and sometimes dislocated the bones of the person 
crucified. Thus he hung suspended by the nails which had 
pierced the most sensitive parts of the body. It was the most 
shameful death inflicted by the Eoman laws, and freemen never 
suffered it — but Christ had been sold for the price of a slave, and 
the death of a slave he must die. It was a punishment of the 
acutest agony. The wounds from the scourging inflamed, and 
the weight of the body being suspended on nails sent pangs of 
thrilling anguish through every member ; the blood rushed to 
the head, and its circulation being impeded, the head became 
dizzy, and the whole man sick. An indescribable thirst seems to 
have been an unfailing attendant of crucifixion. It was common 
to give a stupefying portion to those about to be crucified, that 
the sense of pain might be somewhat blunted, and for this pur- 
pose they offered our Saviour wine mingled with myrrh ; but he 
refused to receive it. It was needful that he should endure every 
pang. Afterwards, when the thirst of crucifixion came upon him, 
he said, I thirst, and they gave him vinegar in a sponge. How 
truly might he have used the words of the xxii. Psalm, I am 
poured out like water, and all my hones are out of joint: my heart is 
like wax; it is melted in the midst of my howels: my strength is dried 
up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws ; and thou 
hast hrought me into the dust of death, Psalm xxii. 14, 15. 



154 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 



Still the Jewish rulers were not satisfied, and they came to 
his cross to feast their eyes with his miseries, and torment his 
ears with additional jeers and scorn. He saved others, let him save 
himself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. The 
soldiers also mocked him, and the very malefactors reviled him — 
though one of them afterwards repented, and found mercy of the 
Lord. All these were outward sufferings, and they were not the 
bitterest that Christ endured. The agony of the garden was not 
yet ended, and when he hung upon the cross, his soul was still 
exceeding sorrowful. Hence that cry of bitter anguish, My God, 
my God, tvhy hast thou forsaken me ! and that other cry expressing 
more than human language could utter, when he cried again with 
a loud voice. 

Darkness covered the earth, for the sun could not look upon 
such deeds of iniquity. Darkness covered the hearts of the weep- 
ing disciples, and darkness covered the soul of Christ himself, for 
he saw not the pleasant face of the Father whom he loved. 

For six hours he hung upon the cross. Men lingered some- 
times for two or three days, but it was not necessary that Christ 
should thus linger. At nine o'clock he was crucified. It was the 
hour for offeriug the morning sacrifice. Darkness speedily veiled 
the heavens at midday. At three o'clock, the hour of offering 
the evening sacrifice, he cried, It is finished. The work of 
atonement was complete. The demands of justice were satisfied. 
The savor of his offering had gone up to God and was accepted, 
and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost, John xix. 30. 
The priests were ministering in the temple at the time, and to 
their astonishment, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, and 
the mysteries that no human eyes save those of the high priest 
had ever seen, were exposed to the common gaze. Henceforth, 
the way into the holiest of all, and the way into heaven, were 
made plain. 

Mcodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea, came to Pilate, and» 
begged the body of Jesus for burial. Their request was granted, 
but ere they took him from his cross, a soldier pierced his side 
with a spear, and forthwith came thereout blood and water, John 
xix. 34. He was dead, and they bare him away to his solitary 
tomb. That day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. 
But oh, how slowly did its hours pass, and how sorrowful were 
those that had loved him while alive! A sword had pierced 
through the heart of her that bare him, and hope had forsaken 



THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST. 



155 



the souls of his disciples, for they remembered not the words that he 
■spake while yet present with them. 

You have heard the story of the sufferings of Christ. It 
is a history often repeated ; but one that must ever be full of in- 
terest to the sons of men. Why did Christ suffer all these things? 
It is one of the laws of God's government, that his wrath is re- 
vealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and the soul that 
sinneth it shall die. But Christ Jesus had no sins of his own. 
He came not into the world like other men, nor was he tainted by 
that original corruption which defiles all human beings. He 
lived on earth for thirty-three years, but in all that time he spake 
never an idle word, nor did an evil action ; living in the midst of 
sinners, an impure or unholy thought never entered in his mind. 
Did he not appeal to his bitterest enemies, Which of you con- 
vinceth me of sin ? Did not Judas Avho betrayed, and Pilate who 
condemned, and the centurion who executed him, all bear witness 
to his innocence? Whence then his sufferings? God never 
does, and with reverence I say it, God cannot inflict one moment's 
suffering except for sin. There is, therefore, but one way to ac- 
count for the sorrows of our Lord. He bore the punishment 
due to our sins. How often is this declared ! It is repeated at 
least ten times in the liii. of Isaiah. 

He was luonnded for our transgressions, 

He was bruised for our iniquities ; 

The chastisement of our peace ivas upon him, 

And, with his stripes we are healed. 

The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. 
This was the reason why he suffered. But why these exquisite 
tortures? these excruciating pangs, these protracted agonies? 
Why was his life but one long sigh, and why this painful death ? 
Why was he a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief f If he 
must die for sin, why might he not have lived in ease, and peace 
and quiet, and at last sink peacefully to the grave? Was not 
death itself, though divested of its terrors, sorrow enough for such 
a one as he ? It is hard to answer these questions, if you think 
sin a small thing. Let those who trifle with sin and think it a 
light matter for God to pardon and pass it by, come hither and 
behold what it cost the Son of God to atone for it. We may 
laugh at sin, but Christ never did. We may roll it as a sweet 
morsel under the tongue, but the Son of God poured out his 
heart's blood on account of it. Could any of the angels of heaven 



156 THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHEIST. 

have atoned for a single sin? No, nor all the heavenly host 
united. The blood of bulls and of goats could never take away 
sin. Its stains sink too deep into the soul. It is that abominable 
thing which God hates, and the only thing in the universe which 
he does hate. We shall never know what sin is, and how God 
regards it, except we view it from the cross of Christ. Be it 
remembered too, that it was our sins which helped to nail him 
there. 

Yet what induced Christ to suffer thus ? Manifestly it was 
impossible we should be saved if he did not suffer. But why 
not leave us to perish in the ruin we had drawn down upon our- 
selves ? Did the human race beseech him to come and be their 
Saviour ? Did the earth fall on her knees and ask for mercy ? 
Alas ! no, — so far were men from asking him to come, that on 
the contrary, when He came to his own, his own received him 
not. It was sovereign and infinite love alone that induced him 
to come. He saw and pitied the misery of the souls he had made. 
And to rescue them from the consequences of their own folly, he 
made himself a sacrifice for sin. Can human tongues declare 
the greatness of that sacrifice ? He had sat on the throne with 
the Father. From that great height his eye had scanned every 
step that he must take. He knew beforehand all the misery he 
must undergo. Every act of ignominy, — every word of scorn, — 
every strife, and every pang. Deliberately he came down, with 
unfaltering step he walked on, he ascended the cross, and de- 
scended to his grave. Being in the form of God, and thinking it no 
robbery to be equal with God, — he made himself of no reputation, and 
took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness 
of men. And being formed in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, 
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Phil. ii. 
6-8. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved 
us, and gave his Son to die for us. Herein is love, not that we 
loved Christ, but he loved us, and gave his soul a ransom for us. 
Thanks he unto God for his unspeakable gift. 



Macao, February 4, 1844. 



SERMON XVIII. 



THE LAW OF GOD. 

Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise 
pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. — Matt. v. 18. 

We live in a world of law and order. In its original consti- 
tution there was nothing left to unrestrained license, but all things 
were perfectly subject to the rules imposed by the great Ruler of 
all. And even now, though sin which is the transgression of law 
has entered, there are traces everywhere of the original regularity, 
Even the wandering cornets have their laws, and the rolling waves 
of the ocean submit to rales. In the heart of man a law was once 
written, and had it been obeyed, there would have been neither 
sin nor sorrow now in the world. But alas ! our first father sin- 
ned, and in consequence all laws, even those of animal nature, and 
inanimate existence, became more or less impaired and defective, 
and the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until 
now, Rom. viii. 22. 

But God did not suffer his creation to rush on ruin that must 
follow a state of anarchy. It was a state of anarchy when man 
fell ; for when the highest of God's creatures on earth delib- 
erately broke the most solemnly proclaimed of all God's laws, 
what else could be looked for, but that all beneath should 
follow the evil example ? But God in mercy put forth his 
hand, and by his providence and grace he restrained both man 
and beast. Gradually, by direct revelation, he gave laws to his 
servants to take the place of those which the practice of sin had 
worn away from their hearts. Yet man went on in his evil course. 
With added years, he added sin, until at last it was said of the 
race, They have all gone out of the way, and the way of peace they 
hare not Jcnoicn, Rom. iii. 12, 17. At last God determined to em- 
body the whole law in a compendious form, and to publish it 
with solemnity that it might be a witness for himself, and that he 



158 



THE LAW OF GOD. 



might thus prepare the way for a fuller revelation of his purposes 
of mercy. 

In his sovereign election, he passed by larger and powerful 
nations, and chose Israel to be the receptacle of truth, and the 
depository of his law. The Lord did not set his love upon them, nor 
choose them, because they were more in number than any people, for 
they were the fewest of all people, Deut. vii. 7. But he loved them, 
and therefore chose them, with great signs and wonders he led 
them from Egypt, and in the second month they came and en- 
camped before Mount Sinai. It was to this that they had looked 
forward, ever since they left Egypt, as the place where they were 
specially to serve God, and they came to it with raised expecta- 
tions. It was certainly a place well chosen for the purpose. Be- 
fore them rose the mountain rough with rocks and hoary with 
age. Around them other mountains rose, and above them were 
the heavens. There was nothing else. Ko traces of man ap- 
peared in this solemn presence chamber of the Almighty, but they 
were in the desert alone with God. It was a glorious occasion. 
There was a nation led out from another nation by the hand of 
God. His pillar of cloud and of fire had gone before them. Bread 
from heaven was their food, and water from the rock their drink ; 
and God spake with their leaders face to face, as a man speaketh 
with his friend. 

It would seem that they reached the mountain on the forty- 
sixth day after leaving Egypt, and that the forty-seventh, forty - 
eighth and forty -ninth were spent in making preparations that 
they might worthily hear what God should say. Bounds were 
set about the mountain ; they were to abstain from ordinary pur- 
suits, to wash their garments and their bodies, and to sanctify 
themselves. Moses told them that the Lord would come down in 
the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai, Ex. xix. 11, and with 
solemn anxiety they awaited the day. It came at last, a day such 
as never was before, and shall not be again until the world shall 
assemble to hear the judgments that shall be proclaimed against 
all who violate the law then delivered. It came to pass on the 
third day in the morning that there were thunders and lightnings and 
a thick cloud upon the mount and the voice of the trumpet exceeding 
loud: so that all the people that ivas in the camp trembled, Exod. xix. 
16. Moses led them out, and arranged them in order at the moun- 
tain's base. Mount Sinai was altogether as a smoke, because the Lord 
descended on it in fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of 



THE LAW OF GOD. 



159 



a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly, Ex. xix. 18. It was 
a sight that no eye of man had ever seen before, for the flames 
stretched up into the midst of the heavens, and the clouds and 
the smoke and darkness rolled above, Dent. iv. 11. Even inani- 
mate nature trembled at the presence of God. There was also the 
voice of a trumpet sounding long, and waxing louder and louder. 
We may perhaps form some conception of other parts of this great 
event, but it is not possible for us to conceive of this. It was as a 
sound like that of the archangel's trump which shall awake the 
dead. It issued from the flame and the smoke, it rang through 
the vault of heaven and reverberated among the mountains of 
Arabia. The people trembled, and even Moses said, I exceedingly 
fear and quake, Heb. xii. 21. The trumpet ceased to sound, and 
after another warning, and additional preparation, God spake all 
these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God ivhich have brought thee 
out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 

Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. 

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything 
that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under 
the earth : thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them : for I the Lord 
thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children 
unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me ; and showing mercy unto 
thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not 
hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do 
all thy work, but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it thou shalt 
not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid- 
servant, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates : for in six days the Lord made 
heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day ; where- 
fore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. 

Honor thy father and thy mother : that it may be well with thee, and that thy 
days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 

Thou shalt not kill. 

Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

Thou shalt not steal. 

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's 
wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything 
that is thy neighbor's. 

When was ever a law given with so much solemnity ? The 
ministering angels (Gal. iii. 19) looked on with fear, and the peo- 
ple trembled before their God. Compared with this scene, the so- 
lemnities of human courts are but insect pageantry. 



160 THE LAW OF GOD. 

It is not possible in the limits of a single discourse to dwell 
upon all that is important concerning this law. But there are 
some general remarks that should be borne in mind whenever we 
peruse it, or whenever it is brought to our minds. 

I. It is of universal obligation. It was indeed given to the Is- 
raelites, and they were long a distinct nation, but it was never 
intended to be confined to them. It was not like the ceremonial 
law, which was intended only for them, and was a burden which 
other nations were not told to bear. We are creatures, — depen- 
dent creatures, and by the terms of our existence must have a 
law, written or unwritten, the law by which we live, and by 
which we shall be judged is still the same. It was written on 
Adam's heart when he stood alone in Eden, and though sin has 
blotted its beauty, some traces of it are still seen in the heart of 
every man. Hardened and sinful a man may be, but no man has 
ever yet lived, who in all his life gave no evidence that he was 
ignorant of every distinction between right and wrong. Even 
the Gentiles, who have not the law, who never heard of Moses or 
of Sinai, do by nature many things contained in the law, and 
these, having not the law of Sinai, are a law unto themselves. 
They show the work of the law written in their hearts , their conscience 
also bearing ivitness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or 
else excusing one another, Rom. ii. 14, 15. 

Those who think that Christ Jesus came to destroy the obli- 
gations of the law, are greatly mistaken. So clear is his testi- 
mony to the contrary, that it is hard to see how any reflecting 
mind can for a moment harbor such a thought. Did he not him- 
self declare, I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil? Matt. v. 17. 
And did he not explain the law in a way that showed its univer- 
sal obligation — rescuing it from the false glosses of the Jews, and 
sending it forth anew with the impress of his own authority ? 
And what do the ten commandments contain, of either a local or 
temporary character ? What is there in them unsuitable in our 
days ? Or what society can be conceived of, as more prosperous 
and happy, than that society would be, in which they should be 
perfectly obeyed ? Or what other law is there that is binding on 
all, if the law written on tables of stone is no longer binding ? 

II. The Law is holy. It cannot be otherwise. Its author is 
Grod, a being of perfect holiness, and the law is but the transcript 
of his will. Himself the standard of perfect purity, all that ema- 
nates from him is necessarily conformed to the same standard. 



I 

THE LAW OF GOD. 161 



Heat proceeds from the fire, and light from the sun, and Holiness 
from God. Were the law not holy, it could not be his. Hence 
its incomparable excellency. What nation is there that has stat- 
utes and judgments so righteous as all this law f Dent. iv. 8. Other 
nations have selected their wisest men, and these have collected 
the experience of ages, and thus formed their laws ; but the best 
of them are full of errors and defects. Who has ever seen or 
heard of - a perfect law, or a perfect constitution on earth ? Not 
so the law of God. 

The Law of the Lord is perfect. 

The testimony of the Lord is sure. 

The statutes of the Lord are clean. 

The commandment of the Lord is pure. 

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 
Ps. xix. 7-9. 

Thus sang the Psalmist in ancient days, and the apostle, from 
his own experience testifies that the laiv is holy, and the command- 
ment holy, and just and good, Eom. vii. 12. Holiness is indeed its 
chief excellence, however hard it may be for sinful man to see 
that it is so. It is hard for us to estimate the holiness of the law of 
God, for sin has blinded our eyes that we cannot easily discern 
spiritual things. It would have been impossible, had not Christ 
Jesus lived on earth, and shown in life and action all the law 
commands. Look at him, and study his character. In him was 
no guile. There was no fault, no error, no mistake. In thought, 
in word, and in deed, he kept the law perfectly, and showed to 
us what it means. 

" We read our duty in his word, 
But iu his life the law appears 
Drawn out in living characters." 

Such is obedience to the law, and had there been no sin, such 
would all men have been. What a blessed world would this 
have been, when wars and deceit, and ingratitude, and sorrow, 
should have been unknown, and language without terms to 
express them. Such is heaven. It is the glory of that happy 
place, that there the law is perfectly obeyed, and all are holy 
beings. Go through all those vast dominions. Examine nar- 
rowly each inhabitant. All are clothed in white, and their 
crowns are of pure gold. Stain or blemish or spot there is none, 
for the beauty of holiness reigns. An unkind word, or a wrong 

11 



162 THE LAW OF GOD. 

action, or a sorrowful face is never seen there — for the law of God 
is obeyed. That same law which is given to us, is given to them, 
and because it is honored there, life and happiness are possessed. 

III. The law is spiritual. — It goes directly to the heart, and 
takes cognizance of every secret thought. We are apt too to think 
of it, as extending merely to our external deportment, and that 
because at first sight it appears to relate chiefly to external 
actions, therefore it has little to do with those that are spiritual 
and eternal. This is a great error. Even amidst the ceremonies 
of the Mosaic ritual there are ample proofs that the law had 
reference chiefly to the heart. Not only does it forbid revenge, 
and actual bodily injury to our neighbor, it also expressly forbade 
the Jews to hear any grudge against the children of their people, 
Lev. xix. 18. Hence it was that the Psalmist says, Thou desirest 
truth in the inward parts, Ps. li. 6. And does not our Saviour 
himself sum up the whole law of the ten commandments, in the 
two simple precepts, of love to God, and love to man ? Jesus said, 
Thou shalt love the 'Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy 
soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great command- 
ment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as 
thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the 
prophets, Matt. xxii. 37-40. Look at our Lord's exposition of 
the commandments in Matthew, and see how he applies them to 
the heart. He detects and condemns rage in its spark; licen- 
tiousness in the first glance of the eye ; covetousness in thoughts ; 
and profaneness in a careless expression. The word of God is the 
sword of the Spirit, Eph. ii. 17; and can he use carnal weapons? 
The ivord of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two- 
edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, 
and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and 
intents of the heart, Heb. iv. 14. Such is the description given of 
its nature by the apostle Paul, and it is a description drawn from 
his own experience. He had been dead once. He had looked 
on the law as a mere code of ceremonies, and thought that an 
external conformity was all that was required. But when he 
examined it more closely, he found that this was not enough. 
The law also said, Thou shalt not covet, and covetousness is a sin 
of the heart. Does the law then, in one particular, go down to 
the secret thoughts of man ? If so, it must do the same in all ; 
and then who can stand ? Whose heart does not condemn him 
before God ? Who is not then guilty of breaking each one of 



THE LAW OF GOD. 



163 



God's commandments ? Thus the apostle reasoned, and his con- 
clusion was, IJcnoiv that the lav: is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold 
under sin, Bom. vii. 7—14. 

Hence it is easy to see how extensive are the requisitions of 
the law. If every sin even of the heart is forbidden, — and if 
every secret thought is to be brought into conformity to the law 
of God. — then we may well say. with him of old. Thy command- 
ment is exceeding broad, Ps. cxix. 96. 

Its holiness, its spirituality, and its extent appear small and 
unimportant now because our minds are so occupied with the 
trifles around us, that Ave see not the magnitude of things beyond. 
YTe hold up our little hands before the eye, and straightway the 
glorious sun is hidden from us. But the time is coming when all 
these trifles will have vanished away, and our naked souls shall 
stand before the bar of God. Crowds of attending angels shall 
surround us, and eternal happiness or eternal misery shall be the 
result of that day's deliberations and decision. Then shall the 
law of God appear in its majesty and purity. The splendors of 
its first announcement on Mount Sinai shall disappear before the 
stern glory in which it shall then be arrayed, for by it shall we 
be judged. Those who have had the written law, shall be judged 
by the written law, and those who have never heard the law 
written on tables of stone shall be judged by that which is written 
on their hearts. But enter not into judgment with thy servomt oh 
Lord, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified, Ps. cxliii. 2. 

IV. The law shall last forever. Human laws vary with the 
fancies of those that make them, or the exigencies of the times ; 
but God never changes, and his law is like himself, immutable. 
That which it required of Adam in the garden of Eden, the same 
it demanded of Israel at Sinai, and the same will it call for at the 
judgment-day. Forever, oh Lord, thy word is settled- in heaven, 
Ps. cxix. 89. Verily Lsay unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away 
one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law tillallbe fulfilled, 
Matt. v. 18. Xor even then shall it fail. Heaven and earth shall 
pass away, but my word shall not pass away, Matt. xxiv. 35. 

Such is the law of God. Its terrible sanctions, and its glorious 
rewards, we cannot now speak of, but it is important to ask, in 
what relation we stand to it ? 

That man must have very low views of the law of God, or 
very high ones of himself who thinks he is able in himself 
to obey its commands. We fearlessly challenge the world to 



164 



THE LAW OF GOD. 



produce a single instance of a man who has never transgressed 
the law. Who is there on whom it does not even now lay its 
iron grasp, and say Pay me that thou owest? Matt, xviii. 28. It 
is in vain to plead past or prospective obedience, for nothing less 
than perfect and perpetual obedience can be accepted. 

The law has two uses. The first is to convince us of our sins. 
It sets before us our duty to God, and it shows us how grossly we 
have failed to perform that duty. It shows us that our sins de- 
serve and shall receive punishment, unless we can find some way 
of escape. There is but one way, and that way is by the cross of 
Christ. The law, therefore, is our schoolmaster, which leads, or 
rather drives us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith, Gal. 
iii. 24. The second is, to be the rule whereby our lives must be 
regulated. We do not expect to be justified by our obedience to 
the law — but by the obedience of Christ, who, in our stead, has 
obeyed the law and made it honorable. But he who is justified 
by Christ, must necessarily lead a holy life ; and what standard 
of holiness is there, or can there be, except the unchanged and 
immutable law ? Let no man say, therefore, that we undervalue 
the law, or remove the necessity of obeying it. We honor the 
law. It must be studied, and it must be obeyed ; for he who 
does not study and understand the law, will never feel that he 
needs to come to Christ. And he who having come to Christ, 
does not obey the law, by that very disobedience, shows that his 
profession is false, and his heart unchanged. 

Macao, February 25, 1844. 



SERMON XIX. 



ADOPTION. 

But as many as received him, to them gave he power* to become the sons of God, 
even to them that believe in his name. — John i. 12. 

It is not an uncommon thing among men for one person to be 
adopted into the family of another. Such acts are legal, and 
often useful, and are acknowledged as such in almost all coun- 
tries. The person so adopted takes the name, adopts the customs, 
and enjoys the privileges of the original members of the family 
with which he becomes connected. Adoption is often the act of 
some wealthy and childless man. And most commonly there is 
something in the personal appearance, character, or history of the 
person adopted which induces to such a course. There are un- 
doubtedly cases in which it arises from motives of pure com- 
passion and benevolence ; but generally the person adopting pays 
as much regard to his own interest as to that of the person whose 
society he seeks. 

In God's family there is also an adoption of sons, Gal. iv. 5, 
and upon it depend important consequences. It is one of the 
benefits which they receive, who by God's grace are effectually 
called from sin to holiness ; from a state of wrath to a state of 
favor : and it is one that shows in a surprising manner the in- 
effable love of God. In adoption among men a stranger is taken 
into the family and treated as one of them, though the very act 
of adoption presupposes that he has no original right to such 
treatment. But in the gracious dealings of God there is even 
more than this. Not merely does he accept the believer as right- 
eous in his sight for Christ's sake — not merely does he pardon 
his sins, promise him exemption from punishment, and the en- 
joyments of the glories of heaven — there are blessings even richer 
and sweeter than these. He receives the believer into the num- 



166 



ADOPTION. 



ber, and gives him a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. 
And what relation can be nearer or dearer than this ? When 
its nearness is contrasted with our natural distance from God, and 
our unfitness for such "intimacy, we shall find it hard to conceive, 
and still harder to declare, how great that grace is which calls us 
to such a privilege. Naturally we are very far from God. We 
neither know him, nor care to be under his eye. We count it no 
honor or privilege to be his ; and by our actions, if not by our 
words, we say to the Almighty — Depart from us, we desire not the 
knowledge of thy ways, J ob xxi. 14. Why should he seek for us, 
or wish to adopt us into his family ? He is no childless being who 
needs some one to console his loneliness. The Son of his love, 
who is the brightness' of his glory, and the express image of his 
person, and in whom he greatly delights, is ever in his bosom. 
Heaven is filled with holy beings, in whom as in unsullied mir- 
rors, his own glory is reflected ; and it would be melancholy 
indeed to think that any world beside our own was peopled with 
a race of sinners. Why select his sons from among sinful men, 
when God is able out of the very stones to raise up children ? 
Yet behold the love of God ! He passed rebellious angels by, and 
sent the offers of grace and life to our world. And though his 
offers were received with neglect, and often with scorn, his pur- 
poses of mercy have never been remitted. He follows us, he calls 
us, he entreats our return. How shall I give thee up, Ephrodm ? 
How shall I deliver thee, Israel f How shall I make thee as Admahf 
How shall I set thee as Zeboim f Mine heart is turned within me. 
My repentings are kindled together, Hos. xi. 8. Like the father of 
the prodigal son, he sees us when yet a great way off, and runs 
to meet us on our return, and counts no gifts or honors too high 
to bestow upon us. And thus it comes to jmss, that in the place 
where it ivas said unto them, Ye are not my people, they are called, the 
children of the Living God, Rom. ix. 26. 

The cause of this distinguishing favor will be sought in vain, if 
sought in ourselves. It is found in the sovereign electing love of 
God alone. This is declared by the apostle Paul in terms as clear as 
it is in the power of human language to use. He hath predestin- 
ated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, accord- 
ing to the good pleasure of his will, Eph. i. 5. What he once said 
to Israel, he now says to all who become the sons of God. None 
eye pitied thee, to have compassion on thee : but thou wast cast out into 
the open field to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wasi 



ADOPTION. 



167 



horn. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own 
blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live : yea, I said 
unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live, Ezek. xvi. 5, 6. He de- 
termined of his own free will and grace, to call those who shall 
be saved into the fellowship of his Son. For this purpose he casts 
their lots where they hear the gospel ; by his grace he inclines 
their hearts to receive the truth, and to return to himself. 
Thus he invites them to Christ, and they become one with him. 
Is he a son ? So are they. Is he beloved ? So are they. 

In the act of adoption, as well as in j ustification and sanctifi- 
cation, the office and importance of faith is seen. It is only those 
who believe in Christ that are received into this relation. To as 
many as believed on him, to them gave he power to become the sons of 
God, John i. 12. It is by faith that the believer is united with 
Christ, and in consequence of that union, he is regarded and 
treated as a son. Behold then what manner of love the Father hath 
bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! therefore 
the world hnoweth us not because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we 
the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear tuhat toe shall be: but we 
know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see 
him as he is, 1 John iii. 1, 2. The privileges of the sons of God it 
would be in vain to attempt to enumerate. Even the beloved 
disciple did not profess to know them all; but there are more 
than enough revealed to make the heart overflow with gratitude 
to the God who has bestowed such grace upon us. It was to be 
expected that God should enrich with many gifts those whom he 
adopts as sons. Even among men it is so. We being evil, give 
good gifts to our children ; and shall not God much more, give 
good things to those he loves ? He that spared not his own Son, but 
freely gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him also give us 
all things ? Bom. viii. 32. 

One of the chief benefits attending our adoption into the family 
of God, is confidence before him. In our natural state we fear our 
Creator, and like Adam in Eden, we hide ourselves when we hear 
him coming — or if we appear before him, it is with fear and trem- 
bling. We stand as criminals dreading the lash, and we are like 
slaves possessed with the spirit of bondage. How can such a one 
love God ? How can he appear in the presence of the Holy One 
who inhabits eternity, without confusion ? But when the spirit 
of adoption is received, all this is changed, and he who formerly 
stood afar off, is brought nigh by the blood of Christ. God is no 



168 



ADOPTION. 



longer an angry judge, but a gracious Father, and all unworthy 
as the believer is, he stands in his presence with confidence, thinks 
of him with affection, and calls upon him without fear. Having 
received the spirit of adoption he cries Abba, Father, Rom. viii. 15, 
and from that time forth he says to the Almighty, My Father, thou 
art the guide of my youth, Jer. iv. 4. No relation on earth is dearer 
than that between a father and his son, and yet this is the relation 
in which God chooses to stand towards us. It would have been 
presumptuous in us to aspire so high, but we may now do it with- 
out fear, for it is Christ himself who teaches us to say, Our Father 
which art in heaven, Matt. vi. 9. By no other religion is God 
brought into such near relations to man. Even the ancient Jews 
compared with the Christians stood afar off, and the name of God, 
Jehovah, they scarcely dared to pronounce. It is related that a 
Christian, a Jew and a Pagan, once met together. The Christian 
demanded of the last by what name he called the god he wor- 
shipped ; but the Pagan could not answer, for their name is Le- 
gion. The Jew said, "We call our God, Jehovah, Jehovah God, 
the Almighty and Eternal, the self-existing and unchangeable." 
"It is a glorious name," replied the Pagan, "but a fearful one." 
The Christian said, "We call him Our Father," and the Jew and 
the Pagan joined their hands and exclaimed, " We also will wor- 
ship him." 

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the chil- 
dren of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs 
with Christ, Rom. viii. 16, 17. This is another of the benefits of adop- 
tion into the family of God. Among men, he who is adopted 
expects to receive an inheritance among the children ef the fam- 
ily which he joins, but that inheritance is often small. Not so 
here. The riches of God are infinite. " The cattle upon a thou- 
sand hills are his — the treasures of the earth and of the sea are 
his, and the shining stars above, are but golden sands around his 
footstool." What an inheritance may his children expect to re- 
ceive from him. All things are his to bestow, and he is willing 
to give all things. Nay, already has he done it, for in his own book 
we read, All things are yours, whether Paid or Ap)ollos, or Cephas, 
or the ivorld, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all 
things are yours, 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22. It is declared over and over 
again that the sons of God shall want no good thing, and that 
whatsoever they ask they shall receive. 

I am aware that to all this it is objected that those who pro- 



ADOPTION. 



169 



fess to be Christians, are no better off in this world than others, 
and that many of them even are called to endure sorer afflictions 
than those around who make no such professions. This apparent 
incongruity between the promises and the actual condition has led 
many to doubt the truth of God's word, and even induced be- 
lievers themselves to despond. But it requires very little con- 
sideration to show that there is no real incongruity ; nor will it 
surprise the man in whose heart true faith is found, to be told, 
that these temporary privations and afflictions, are but additional 
evidences of the love of God ; and that in the end they shall ac- 
complish still greater good to those exercised by them. The 
Christian in this world is but a minor. He is under age, and there- 
fore it is not to be supposed that he shall at once enter on the full 
enjoyment of his whole estate. The inheritance is reserved for 
him. It is laid up in store, and kept beyond the reach of rob- 
bery or loss. A sufficient support is given to him, and in due 
season he shall enter on the enjoyment of the whole ; and that en- 
joyment shall be prolonged throughout eternity. How different 
is his estate from that of heirs on earth ! For many years they 
look forward to the possession of their inheritance, and when at last 
they obtain it, with, what a precarious grasp do they hold it ! 
"Wicked men may deprive them of it. The winds, or the waves, or 
the fire may destroy it ; and at the best, a very few years will call 
them away from it. Not so the Christian's inheritance. For a few 
years he expects it, and then through unending ages he possesses 
and enjoys it. It never grows old. It never grows less. On the 
contrary, it is constantly increasing in value, nor has he the slight- 
est fear of being deprived of it. And the trials and losses the 
Christian meets with in this state, are really blessings in disguise. 
They are not pleasant to bear. They often wring his heart with, 
anguish. Nevertheless afterwards, they bring forth the peaceable 
fruits of righteousness, to them that are exercised therewith. "We 
are like children who need to be educated, and disciplined for fu- 
ture life — and rest assured God will not spoil his children. If 
they need it, he will use the rod, and his soul will not spare for 
their crying. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth 
every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening God dealeth 
with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth 
not ? But if ye he without chastisement whereo all are partakers, 
then are ye bastards and not sons, Heb. xii. 6-8. We are like men 
sick of a severe disease, and the physician who would cure it, 



170 



ADOPTION. 



must use his sharp instruments and bitter drugs. Does the phy- 
sician hate his patient because he uses these painful methods to 
cure him? Or would he show more love were he to hold his 
hand, and administer opiates when sharp stimulants are needed ? 
The great Physician of souls understands well our case, and no 
one who has trusted to his skill has ever repented of his confi- 
dence. 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, 

But trust him for his grace, 
Behind a frowning providence 

He hides a smiling face. 

In the darkest hour, and times of deepest distress, when flesh 
and heart faileth ; still (rod is the strength of the Christian's heart, 
and his portion forever. Weeping may endure for a night, but 
assuredly joy shall come in the morning, and the believer shall 
say, with him of old, It is good for me that I have been afflicted, Ps. 
cxix. 71. 

The promise is sure to the sons of God, that all things shall 
work together for their good. Some things bear the appearance 
of evil on their face, but they leave the peaceable fruits of right- 
eousness behind them. Therefore, neither tribulation nor dis- 
tress, nor famine nor nakedness, nor peril nor sword, shall sepa- 
rate the believer from the love of God, or remove his claim to be 
considered as a son of God. All these things may come upon 
him, but there is a hand that rules, and directs, and restrains 
them all, and that hand is his Father's hand. 

But before any one can lay claim to these great privileges 
which the sons of God enjoy, he must be satisfied that he is 
really a child of God. How, then, shall this be learned ? It is 
not a trifling subject, nor should we delay to satisfy ourselves on 
this point. Some complain that it is difficult, while others affirm 
that it is impossible to know it with certainty, and presumptuous 
to suppose that we can be assured of our final salvation, until we 
are actually in the possession of it. That it is presumptuous to 
aspire after such assurance, it would be difficult to show, and why 
it should be impossible, it is hard to conceive. It is not ordi- 
narily difficult for men on earth to learn who their parents are. 
A child usually knows its own father. There are bonds of attrac- 
tion between the two, and the child's affection and reverence 
usually make it manifest to others. It is even so here. Our 
feelings toward God, our reverence and affection for him, and the 



ADOPTION. 



171 



manner in which we act in all our intercourse with him and for 
him, are the best evidences whether we are really his children or 
not. Hereby do we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which 
he hath given us, 1 John iii. 24 ; for the spirit itself beareth witness 
with oar spirit that we are the children of God, Eom. viii. 16. 

Would you know, then, whether you have been received into 
the family of God ? How do you regard him ? Do you reve- 
rence him as the great, and glorious, and holy God, who inhabits 
eternity, and the praises thereof? Do you delight to think of 
him, as a just and pure Spirit, who cannot look upon iniquity — 
in whose presence the heavens are not clean ? At the same time, 
while you feel towards him all the reverence due from a creature 
to its Creator, do you regard him as a kind and affectionate 
Father, reconciled to you through the death of Christ? Do 
thoughts of him, and frequent recollections of his grace and excel- 
lence, come into your minds, as naturally as affectionate remem- 
brances of a father do, into the heart of an obedient child ? What 
is the character of your prayers to him ? The child of God comes 
to his heavenly Father, as to a tried and faithful friend. He 
delights to hold communion with him. He has no concealments 
from his God ; and the full tide of affection, that finds on earth 
no suitable object for all its strength, gushes forth, as, with the 
spirit of adoption, he cries, Abba, Father. He asks himself, How 
would my father have me act in such and such circumstances? 
and he has no greater delight than to bring all his works, and 
perform them as under the very eye of God. He that doeth evil 
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be 
reproved. But the child of God fears not to bring even his im- 
perfect services; and if he has done wrong, his spirit finds no 
rest, until, with ingenuous repentance, he has confessed them to 
God. 

We judge of parents, in some degree, by their children. Let 
the children of the Most High so act, that God shall not be 
ashamed of them. Is he holy ? So must his children be. Is he 
kind and compassionate ? So let all his children prove. Be ye 

therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect, 
Matt. v. 48. 

It is almost superfluous to add, that no class of men are so 
truly happy, as those that are the sons of God. We have seen 
that they are not exempted from afflictions and trials. It is true 
of them, as of all around, that man is born unto troubles as the 



172 



ADOPTION. 



sparks fly upward. Nay, I have often thought, that the Chris- 
tian has more sorrows, and he feels them more acutely than the 
men of the world. Yet it is no paradox to assert that, notwith- 
standing all this, his joys are far greater and more desirable than 
theirs. There is an illumination of the understanding, and an 
enlargement of the capacities, in the child of God, which, while 
it subjects him to some sorrows, which men of the world do not 
experience at present, at the same time opens to him stores of 
enjoyments, which other men do not understand, and which 
more than counterbalance his added sorrows. Has he not a hope 
fixed upon the rock of ages, even in the darkest hour ? What 
though the storms rage, and the tempests lower ? What though 
all around him are pale with fear, and trembling with anxiety ? 
True, there are dark clouds, but he knows that behind those 
clouds, the hand of his Father is stretched out for his defence. It 
is said that a little child on ship-board in a storm was observed 
to be as calm and happy as usual, though all around were in 
momentary expectation of perishing. On being asked if he had 
no fears, he replied, with child-like simplicity and confidence, 
" No, my Father is at the helm." Even so may the Christian 
say; for he has heard a voice, which says to him, When thou 
passest through the ivaters, I vrill he with thee, and through the rivers, 
they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou 
shalt not be burned ; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee, Is. 
xliii. 2. 

And what though he has but little of what this world calls 
riches! His residence may be a cottage, his clothes may be 
coarse, his food scanty, and his friends few; but what can he 
want, who calls Cod his Father ? Nor is he deprived of gratifi- 
cation in the sight of that which he sees around him, though he 
may not call it his own. He is related to ' everything he sees, 
from the stately oak to the bending blade of grass — from the 
glow-worm to the sun in the heavens — because the Maker of all 
these is his Father. 

" His are the mountains, and the valleys his, 
And the resplendent rivers, his to enjoy 
With a propriety that none can feel 
But who, with filial confidence inspired, 
Can lift to heaven an unpresumptuous eye, 
And, smiling, say, ' My Father made them alV " 

Macao, March 3, 1844. 



SERMON XX. 



THE GOLDEN" CALF AT SINAI. 

Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee : 
behold, mine angel shall go before thee : nevertheless, in the day -when I visit I 
will visit their sin upon them. And the Lord plagued the people because they 
made the calf which Aaron made. — Exon. xxxii. 34, 35. 

After the law was given on Mount Sinai, there was a pause. 
Then Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all 
the judgments : and all the people answered with one voice and said: 
All the words which the Lord hath said, will ice do, Exod. xxiv. 3. 
This unanimous consent of the people was followed by the solemn 
ratification of the national covenant between God and Israel. Mo- 
ses and Aaron and seventy elders, after the appropriate sacrifices 
and offerings went up into the mountain. There, they saw the God 
of Israel^ and there was wider his feet as it were a paved work of a 
sapphire stone, and as it were tJie body of heaven in its clearness, and 
upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they 
saw- God, and did eat and drink, Exod. xxiv. 10-11. Thus the 
covenant was ratified ; the laws of God were clearly made known ; 
the people promised obedience ; he became their God, and they 
were called his people. Then again there was a pause, and a cloud 
covered the mount, and the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, 
and the cloud covered it six days. And the sight of the glory of the 
Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount, in the eyes of the 
children of Israel, Exod. xxiv. 15-17. 

At no time since the creation of the world were so many and 
such magnificent displays of the glory and the power of God 
made to men, as at the period when the law was given from 
Mount Sinai. No nation ever saw him, and heard his voice, as 
did Israel. With what feelings of awe must the nation have 
gazed upon that devouring fire, as it flamed in the desert ! The 
trumpet had ceased to sound, and the voice of God was no more 



174 



THE GOLDEN CALF AT SINAI. 



heard, and they stood in those ancient solitudes gazing, and fear- 
ing, and yet adoring the God who had shown so much conde- 
scension, and of whose faithfulness to his promises they were 
now the witnesses. Eeasoning after the manner of men, we should 
say, that a people who had seen such wonderful things, and 
received such distinguishing mercies, could not speedily, if ever, 
prove recreant to their solemn vows. Least of all should we 
expect, that in sight of all these tokens of divine presence, they 
should openly rebel against the Lord. But it is a melancholy 
page in the history of human nature which we read at the foot 
of Mount Sinai. Even in Horeb, the scene of all these wonders, they 
provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with them, to 
have destroyed them, Deut. ix. 8. 

After the six days in which the glory of the Lord appeared 
upon the mountains, and which it would seem that Moses spent 
in solitary communion with God, the Lord called unto him out 
of the midst of the cloud. He then went into the cloud into the 
immediate presence of the Almighty, and remained in the mount 
forty days, and forty nights, Exod. xxiv. 16-18. This first period 
is not to be confounded with another similar period, which he 
afterwards spent there, Deut. ix. 18. During all this time he did 
neither eat bread, nor drink water, Deut. ix. 9. What his em- 
ployments were, we scarcely know. During a part of the time, 
he was employed in receiving the tables of stone, on which the 
ten commandments were written; and in receiving the minute 
directions and instructions of God, respecting the tabernacle and 
its furniture, and the priesthood of Aaron. The patterns of all 
these things were showed to him in the mount, Exod. xxv. 40 ; 
Heb. viii. 5. Doubtless, he also spent much time in prayer, and 
communion with God, Exod. xxxi. 18. It was a solemn and a 
sacred time, even as Elijah in the same desert, and as Christ, each 
fasting for forty days, were prepared for the great works which 
they respectively accomplished. He that would serve God ac- 
ceptably before men, must needs spend much time in intimate 
communion with his Creator in solitude. 

The Israelites were still at the base of the mountain. It still 
burned with fire, and its smoke still ascended unto heaven. For 
awhile they gazed with curiosity and with fear. By degrees 
these feelings abated, and at length, strange to say, gave place to 
indifference — nay to satiety and contempt. Mere outward ordi- 
nances and imposing ceremonies have little permanent effect, if 



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175 



the heart remain untouched. Israel was the professed people of 
God, but there is every reason to suppose that the majority were 
far from being true worshippers of Jehovah. They were mere 
professors, at first even clamorous in their profession, then indif- 
ferent, then rebellious. They were those whom Christ compares 
to the stony ground. The seed falls on the ground where there is 
not much earth, and immediately springs up because it has no 
depth of earth ; but when the sun is up, it is scorched and 
withers away. 

For several days they waited for Moses, but at last weary of 
waiting, they came in a tumult to Aaron, and demanded of him 
that he should make them Gods to go before them, Exod. xxxii. 1. 
In their hearts it would seem, they were already desirous to return 
to the land of Egypt. Indeed, Stephen, the first martyr of the 
Christian church, expressly charges them with harboring such a 
purpose — In their hearts they turned hack again into Egypt, Acts 
vii. 39, We might have hoped, that Aaron, the brother of 
Moses, and the intended high priest of Israel, would have with- 
stood their wicked intentions. But so far as appears, he made no 
remonstrance, and gave them no warning. He called for their 
golden ornaments, and they hastily brought their most precious 
jewels. Of these he made a golden calf, and set it up before 
them. It was received with applause, and the people, mindless of 
the voice of God, which had said, I have brought thee out of the land 
of .Egypt, Exod. xx. 2, exclaimed, These be thy Gods, oh Israel, which 
brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, Exod. xxxii. 4. In Egypt 
they had been accustomed to seeing their neighbors worship 
Osiris under the form of a calf, and to this they naturally turned 
as the most appropriate representation of God. It is not certain 
that they meant to forsake entirely the worship of Jehovah, but 
they had been so long accustomed to seeing God worshipped by 
means of images, that they wished still to continue the practice. 
This at least was Aaron's intention, for he built an altar before 
the calf, and made proclamation saying, To-morrow is a feast unto 
Jehovah, Exod. xxxii. 5. But how miserable a subterfuge was 
this ! What ideas could they have of the glorious Jehovah, when 
they represented him under the image of an ox that eateth grass ? 
What memories were theirs, that did not recall the solemn words. 
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of 
anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath. How could 
they suppose, that the God who had showed himself in such 



176 



THE GOLDEN CALF AT SINAI. 



array of splendor and majesty on that mountain's top, could be 
pleased with such representations at its base ? But no thought 
of these things entered their minds. Early on the morrow they 
rose up, and began their worship. They offered burnt- offerings and 
brought peace-offerings. They sat down to eoi and drink, and they 
rose up to play, Exod. xxxii. 6. This last expression is one that 
fills the mind with painful suspicions. They rose up to play. It 
is well known that in the worship of many of the idols of the 
heathen, there were rites of a nature so brutal and obscene, that 
it is a shame even to speak of them ; and these rites are occasion- 
ally referred to in Scripture, by the very expression here used. 

What a spectacle was here ! But a few short weeks before, 
and the nation had stood trembling at the foot of Sinai. They 
had heard that fearful trumpet's voice — had seen the ascending 
flame and smoke — had felt the earth quake beneath them. The 
command had sounded in their ears, and repeatedly they had 
promised obedience. Even yet was the mountain smoking before 
them, and already were they openly and shamelessly violating 
the commands they had promised to obey ! Where was Aaron 
and the seventy elders, who had gone up to the mount, to eat and 
drink in the presence of the God of Israel? Foremost in the 
transgression. How quickly had they turned aside out of the way 
which the Lord had commanded them! Deut. ix. 16. Thus they 
wrought great provocations, Neh. ix. 18. They made a calf in 
Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their 
glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgot God 
their Saviour which had done great things in Egypt, Ps. cvi. 19-21. 
Everything around conspired to aggravate their crime. Sinai — 
the law of the commandments — the covenant whose blood was 
scarce yet dry — the smoking cloud — and the manna, on which 
they lived, all witnessed against them ; but their ears were deaf 
to every voice. 

It is a terrible thing to sin against God. We may forget him, 
but his eye is ever upon us, and every action we perform is 
recorded in his book, to meet us when he calls us into judgment. 
He saw the crime of Israel, and it grieved him at his heart. Was 
this the people whom with so many signs, he had redeemed from 
Egypt ? Was this the people whose solemn vows were still on 
record before him ? And was this the way in which they remem- 
bered their promises and requited his care ? Then the Lord said 
unto Moses, I have seen this people, and behold it is a stiff-necked 



THE GOLDEN" CALF AT SINAI. 



177 



people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot 
against them, and that I may consume them, and I will make of thee 
a great nation, Exod. xxxii. 9, 10. These were words of terrible 
import ; but Moses, so often the mediator between God and his 
people, was now their intercessor, and his prayer deserves to be 
studied, not only as an example of entire forgetfulness of self, and 
of generous earnestness in behalf of an offending people, but as 
an example of the force of argument in prayer with God. It is 
short, as all the public prayers of the Bible are — but it is com- 
prehensive, and earnest as became one who thought not of him- 
self but of the glory of God, and of the good of men. Moses 
besought the Lord his God, and with arguments he sought to avert 
his fierce indignation. Why should he now suffer his wrath to 
wax hot against his people ? Were they not his own people, and 
though offending, would he not pardon them ? Had he not done 
great things for them already ; and would he now put it out of 
his power to do more for them ? Nay, if he now destroyed them, 
would he not, so to speak, lose all he had already done for them? 
Besides, this would give the Egyptians and other enemies of God 
and his people ground for triumph, and of slander. Would they 
not say, that all the promises of God were merely intended to 
lure the people on to destruction, and that God had not power to 
accomplish what he had promised? Wherefore should the 
Egyptians have occasion to say, that for mischief God had 
brought the Israelites out, that he might slay them in the moun- 
tains, and consume them in the desert? But above all, he 
pleaded the promises and the covenant of God. Had he not 
sworn by his ownself, with an immutable oath, to Abraham and 
Isaac and Jacob, that the Israelites should be his people forever ? 
What though one or many generations should rebel, was not the 
covenant sure ? did it not have respect to Christ ? and would the 
faithful Jehovah now make his own promises of none effect ? 

It was a prayer full of wisdom, and of faith, and the Lord 
was graciously pleased to hear it, and to repent of the evil he had 
thought to do unto his people. He remembered for them, the 
covenant he had made with their fathers, and repented according 
to the multitude of his mercies, Ps. cvi. 45. Let it not be thought 
when God is said to repent, that he is subject to change of pur- 
poses, and fluctuations of counsels, as men are when they repent. 
He changes not. His purposes remain ever the same, for the 
Strength of Israel is not a man that he should repent. In con- 

12 



178 



THE GOLDEN CALF AT SINAI. 



descension to our limited capacities, the sacred writers sometimes 
speak of him as if he were actuated by passions like our own ; 
but this is only to express the more strongly the depth of his ab- 
horrence of sin, and the multitude of his mercies to men. Thus 
he is said to be angry — and to repent — but no passion ever clouds 
his mind — no change ever crosses his counsels. It was well said 
by Augustine, " Oh Lord, who is like thee ? Thou lovest, but 
art not inflamed with passion ; thou repentest, but dost not 
grieve ; thou art angry, but tranquil withal, thou changest thy 
works, but changest not thy counsels. Woe unto those that are 
silent concerning thee, when even the loquacious cannot express 
all thy wonders !" 

Moses came down from the mount to the camp of Israel, but 
how different the scenes he saw from those he had just left ! It 
was truly a descent from heaven to the lower regions ; from inti- 
mate communion with a holy God, to the orgies of men who de- 
based themselves to the level of the brutes. Meek as Moses was 
above all the men on the face of the earth, the spectacle he now 
beheld was more than he could, and more than he ought to bear. 
As soon as he came nigh unto the camp, he saw the calf and the danc- 
ing : and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his 
hand, and brake them beneath the mount, Exod. xxxii. 19. This 
breaking of the tables on which the ten commandments had been 
written with God's own ringer, was not a hasty burst of passion. 
It was an intended symbolical action. Israel, by their making 
and worshipping the golden calf, had broken the solemn cove- 
nant ; and the breaking of the tables was intended to show them, 
that on God's part also, the covenant was no longer binding, and 
that they must look for judgments and wrath from him, who, 
had they continued faithful, would have showered upon them un- 
mingled blessings. The punishments speedily began to fall upon 
them. The calf which they made and worshipped with applause, 
was taken by Moses and treated with every mark of indignity 
and contempt, while they were compelled to assist in its destruc- 
tion. He took their sin, the calf which they had made, and burnt it 
with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was 
as small as dust, and strewed it upon the water of the brook that de- 
scended from the mount, and made the children of Israel to drink it, 
Deut. ix. 21. Exod. xxxii. 20. Then after a severe reproof to 
Aaron, he called for all those who were on the Lord's side, to 
come unto him. The children of Levi, who, it would seem, had 



THE GOLDEN CALF AT SINAI. 



179 



not gone with the rest of the nation in their transgression, joined 
themselves to him, and at his command, they took their swords, 
and passing through the camp from gate to gate, slew three thou- 
sand of the people. It is most probable that these three thousand 
had been foremost in the offence, and undoubtedly Moses acted 
by divine command in ordering their execution. It was a terri- 
ble thing to see the armed messengers proceeding on their deadly 
work, and slaying their companions and their neighbors, their sons 
and their brothers ; but so manifest was the sin of the people, and 
so evident the power of God accompanying these avengers of his 
insulted majesty, that no resistance was made, and no murmurs 
were heard. It would have been easy for the many thousands 
of Israel to have resisted the single tribe of Levi, but guilt had 
weakened their arm, and made them naked. 

The hearts of Israel were sad that night. Like Adam, when 
he had eaten the forbidden fruit, they felt, that for a momentary 
trifling gratification, they had sinned a great sin, and laid them- 
selves open to the greatest sufferings, without the slightest ad- 
vantage. They had broken God's laws, and their own promises ; 
they had cast themselves out of the covenant, and angered Moses, 
their best friend ; they had seen their leaders in crime laid in the 
dust ; and they knew not but that in a short time they should 
themselves suffer the same penalty. The day had commenced 
with feasting and revelry, but it closed with fearful forebodings. 
They were in the desert ; what if God should leave them there ! 
It was impossible for that multitude ever to extricate themselves 
from those defiles. Perhaps the manna might cease to fall, and 
if no sudden judgment should take them away, yet want would 
speedily cause them to perish. Could we have looked into the 
camp of Israel, we should have seen darkness and sorrow, even 
the light darkened in the heavens thereof. So it always is with 
sin — sweet at first, but bitter in the end. 

The words of Moses on the morrow were not such as to in- 
crease their hopes. When he prayed to God in the mount, he had 
had no conception of the greatness of their sin, but now his mind 
was overwhelmed with its magnitude ; and even with the assur- 
ance he had, that God would pardon them, he scarce dared to 
hope for it. On the morrow he said unto the people, Ye have sinned 
a great sin, and now I will go up unto the Lord ; peradventure I shall 
make an atonement for your sin, Exod. xxxii. 30. He went up 
again to the mountain, and again appeared before the Lord, as an 



180 



THE GOI/DEIST CALF AT SINAI. 



intercessor. But what could he say? The sin of the people 
could not be concealed. It was written with a pen of iron, and 
the point of a diamond. With what words should he plead for 
their forgiveness ? It would seem that an excess of emotion 
choked his utterance, and his broken expressions show more 
clearly than any eloquence of speech, the earnestness of his heart. 
And Moses said, Oh, this people have sinned, a great sin, and have 
made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin — 
here he paused. The sentence is incomplete, for words do not 
always express all the feelings of the heart — if thou wilt forgive 
their sin. Most earnestly did he desire their forgiveness, but he 
feared that such a sin could not be passed over. Yet the alterna- 
tive was too dreadful for him to contemplate, and rather than see 
the people whom he loved cut off, he would prefer to die : — if 
thou wilt forgive their sin ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy 
hook ivhich thou hast written. Exod. xxxii. 31, 82. It was simply 
a prayer that he might die. To be blotted out of God's book of 
eternal life, is a prayer that neither Moses, nor any other child 
of God could offer. The answer of God was one calculated to 
awaken the anxieties of Moses, and to fill the minds of Israel 
with fearful forebodings. He intimated, that though for the pres- 
ent he should not punish them, yet their sin should not be for- 
gotten by him, and they themselves should have abundant cause 
to remember it. They had basely turned their backs upon him, 
and if sorrows came upon them afterwards, let them remember 
what brought them down. Go now, lead the people to the place of 
which I have spoken unto thee : behold, mine angel shall go before 
thee : nevertheless, in the day when I visit I ivill visit their sin upon 
them. And the Lord plagued the people because they made the calf, 
which Aaron made, Exod. xxxii. 34, 35. The Jews have a prov- 
erb, which says, that " no affliction has ever visited the people of 
Israel, in which there was not some particle of the dust of the 
golden calf." 

The remarks already made, render it unnecessary to add any 
lengthened practical application. A few remarks in conclusion 
shall suffice. 

1. It is easy to see that no professions, and mere external 
privileges and ceremonies are sufficient, in the service of God, 
when the heart is not engaged. All these will not keep us from 
open and disgraceful sin. Fear is but a poor ingredient in wor- 
ship. Who feared the Lord so much as Israel, when the flame 



THE GOLDEN CALF AT SINAI. 



181 



and smoke of Sinai ascended, and the trumpet's voice sounded in 
their ears ? 

2. How desperate is the wickedness of the human heart. I 
know of no reason to suppose that the hearts of the men of Israel 
were any worse than ours ; or that we should not, in the same 
circumstances, act precisely as did they. Who maketh us to dif- 
fer ? or what have we that we do not receive from God ? Let 
the restraints of his grace be withdrawn, and where shall we stop 
in our downward career ? 

3. This history furnishes a terrible example of God's hatred 
of sin, and of his determination to punish it. ~No greatness of 
power, no fear of the numbers of men shall keep him from in- 
flicting on those who sin all that their sin deserves. What 
though a nation sins against him, he can in a moment arm the 
avengers of his justice : he can turn a man's sword against his 
own brother, he can commission the invisible powers of the air, 
all nature at his command shall arise and pursue the transgress- 
ors. He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and 
among the inhabitants of the earth ; and none can stay his hand, or 
say unto him, what doest thou? Dan. iv. 35. And none shall be 
safe when he maketh inquisition, Amos ix. 2-4. 

4. The conduct of Moses in all this affair is peculiarly worthy 
of remark. Without dwelling on it in all its particulars, observe 
the arguments with which he enforces his prayer. He refers 
specially to the covenant made with Abraham, and Isaac, and 
Jacob. But what was that covenant ? To whom had it special 
reference ? It was a covenant that looked directly to the Lord 
Jesus Christ as its great Mediator. The covenant, says Paul, was 
confirmed of God in Christ, Gal. iii. 17. He was its centre — he was 
its hope — and a prayer that pleaded that covenant was really a 
prayer in the name and for the sake of Christ. This was there- 
fore the main argument with which all the ancient patriarchs 
strengthened their prayers ; and this is our only hope. What- 
ever we plead for — be it the forgiveness of sin, or the bestowment 
of favor, we have no other name save that of Christ, and him 
crucified. It is our only, and our all-sufficient hope. 

Macao, March 9, 1844. 



SERMON XXI. 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 

And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto bis friend. — 
Exodus xxxiii. 11. 

The worship of the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai was 
a melancholy event. Man may well hide his face, and blush for 
shame as he reads the account ; for if we except the sin of Adam 
when he fell, and of Judas when he betrayed our Lord, there, 
perhaps, has never been a case of more aggravated wickedness. 
Every circumstance serves to enhance their guilt, and the wonder 
is, not that three thousand were put to death immediately, and 
that the Lord plagued the people because they made the golden 
calf, but that his anger did not wax hot, till it had consumed the 
whole nation. But if this history be melancholy, as showing how 
low human nature can sink, it is equally instructive in the dis- 
plays it makes to us of the character of God. One of the brightest 
and most attractive revelations of his excellency which the Old 
Testament contains was made immediately after, and in conse- 
quence of the sin of Israel. Indeed a new and fuller revelation 
of his grace was then needed ; for rich as had been the previous 
displays of his mercy and long-suffering to Israel, it seems that 
even Moses could scarce believe it possible for him to forgive this 
daring offence. The character of Moses too shines brighter from 
its contrast with that of Israel. The lower they seem to fall, the 
higher does his faith and piety soar, until at last we are compelled 
almost to turn away our faces, and forbear to gaze upon the ex- 
cellency to which, by God's grace, even a sinful man may attain. 
What a contrast between the people and their leader is pre- 
sented in the history of the golden calf. While Moses wor- 
shipped God, they worshipped an idol ; but soon the scene was 
changed, and the exulting idolaters, stripped of their ornaments, 



COMMUXIOX OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



183 



filled with fears, and stings of conscience, mourned over their 
folly. It was then that the character of Moses shone out in its 
brightness. Had he left them to the punishment their sin de- 
served, and which God seemed ready to inflict upon them, there 
was a promise to himself that his seed should become a great 
nation. But forgetting himself entirely, and anxious only for the 
glory of God, and the prosperity of his people, he sought their 
pardon. xTot satisfied with a single petition, he returned again 
and again, to the throne of grace, nor did he leave it till he ob- 
tained the answer he desired. There were no prayers for himself, 
all were for his people. And yet behold the benefits of inter- 
cessory prayer, not only to those who are the objects of prayers, 
but to him who prays. TTe are told that the Lord turned again 
the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends, Job xlii. 10 ; and 
thus when Moses prayed only for Israel, he obtained in addition 
for himself the richest tokens of God's favor that he ever received. 
Before this time he had been admitted to very intimate com- 
munion with God : but now the Almighty was pleased to reveal 
himself even more gloriously, and to speak unto Moses face to face, 
as a man speaketh with his friend. 

Let us consider the favor of God shown to Moses, as seen, 

1. In the friendly intercourse he was allowed to enjoy with 
him. 

2. In the wonderful revelation of the character of God made 
to him. 

3. In the effects on Moses, as seen even in his bodily appear- 
ance. 

1. It would seem that no other mere man ever enjoyed such 
intimate and unrestrained intercourse with the Almighty, as was 
granted to Moses on this occasion. Abraham was called the 
Friend of God] but one who compares the account of Abraham, in 
the xviii. of Genesis, when he pleads for Sodom and Gomorrah, 
with that of Moses in the xxxiii. of Exodus, when he pleads for 
Israel, will see, that even Abraham did not approach so near to 
God as Moses did. The Lord himself testifies, that there Avas 
none whom he regarded as he did Moses. He says to Aaron and 
Miriam when they contended with Moses, If there be a prophet 
among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known to him in a vision, 
and will speak unto him in a dream. Moses, my servant, is not so : 
with him I will speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in 
dark speeches ; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold, l^iimb. 



184: 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



xii. 6-8 ; and accordingly it Avas said of him after his death, 
There arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses whom the 
Lord knew face to face, Dent, xxxiv. 10. 

In reading this chapter we feel that we are standing on con- 
secrated ground, and never were the words of the poet more ap- 
plicable than here — 

"Prayer ardent 
Opens heaven, and lets down a stream 
Of glory on the consecrated hour of man 
In audience with the Deity." 

The Lord had commanded Moses to lead up the people of Is- 
rael to their appointed land ; but how could Moses do this unless 
the Lord should tell him who should go with him ? The Lord 
had told him that he was received into special favor, but Moses 
wished some more manifest token of this favor. Now therefore I 
pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me the ivay, that I 
may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that 
this nation is thy people. To this affectionate and earnest petition 
a favorable reply was given. The Lord said, My presence shall go 
with thee, and I will give thee rest. But this was not all that Moses 
wUnted. Not for himself alone did he ask rest, and the favor of 
God. He felt that his interests were inseparable from those of 
Israel, and continued his supplication. If thy presence go not with 
me, carry us not up hence. As if he had said, It were better for 
us to die in the wilderness, than to leave this place without the 
favor of our covenant Grod. For wherein shall it he known here 
that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight t is it not in that 
thou goest tuith us? So shall ice be separated, I and thy people, from 
all the nations that are on all the face of the earth. His request was 
granted, for Moses was as one of the special friends of a king. It 
is not expected of a great monarch that he should know all the 
officers that serve him ; but he knows the names of those who are 
nearest to him, and serve him most faithfully. Such was the 
relation in which Moses stood to Grod. And the Lord said unto 
him, I will do this thing also which thou hast spoken ; for thou hast 
found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name, Exod. xxxiii. 
13-17. 

2. Emboldened by the condescension of the Lord, Moses had 
yet another request to present, and he said, I beseech thee show me 
thy glory. To those who know but little of the character of Grod, 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



185 



this may seem a strange petition. Had not Moses already seen 
the glory of God, as no other mortal ever saw it ? What brighter 
revelations could he expect to receive? Why should he wish 
for more? But let us not think so meanly of God. Our Creator 
is a being of infinite and incomprehensible majesty and excellence. 
After we have tasked our powers to the utmost to comprehend 
his character, there is still an infinity of glory beyond — and he 
who has rightly learned anything at all of God, will desire to 
advance yet farther and farther in that knowledge' — forgetting 
all that he has learned, he will still press forward to know more. 
Like Moses, his prayer will still be, / beseech thee show me thy glory. 
The more he knows of God, the more he will desire to know; the 
more he learns of God, the more he will be able to learn, for the 
very reception of knowledge concerning him, increases our ca- 
pacity to receive additional stores of such knowledge. And the 
more we know of him, the richer will be the happiness it affords, 
for it was not of this knowledge that Solomon spoke when he said, 
in much knowledge is much sorrow. ISTor need we fear ever to 
exhaust the knowledge of God, for after our highest attainments 
in it, we shall still see so much beyond, that we shall exclaim 
with the apostle Paul, Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom 
and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and 
his ways past finding out, Eom. xi. 33. It was the sight which 
Moses already had of the glory of God, which quickened his 
desire to know more of it, and led him to pray, I beseech thee show 
me thy glory. His prayer was well-pleasing to God, and it re- 
ceived a gracious response. The Lord promised to show him 
a part of his glory, but its full brightness Moses, nor any other 
man, could not receive. How can we, who cannot look even 
upon the sun with uncovered eye, look upon him who made the 
sun ? We must come by degrees to the knowledge of God ; and 
he commonly reveals his glory to us as we are able to bear it, 
and in proportion to the earnestness of our prayers for it. He 
said unto Moses, 1" will make all my goodness pass before thee ; and 
I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious 
to whom I will be gracious, and will shoiv mercy on whom I will show 
mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no 
man see my face and live. It was a common opinion among the 
Hebrews, and from them it extended to other people, that no 
man could live after having seen God. It is certainly natural to 



186 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



suppose that no creature can gaze unharmed on him who dwelleth 
in light, which no man can approach unto, 1 Tim. vi. 16. 

The words of God, which close the xxxiii. chapter, are difficult 
to be explained. They refer to some revelation of God's glory, 
that should be made to Moses, but its precise nature we shall 
probably never know as long as we are in the body. There was 
a cleft in the rock in which Moses was to be placed, and where 
he should behold some part of the glory of the Lord, but not all, 
nor even its brightest part — thou shalt see my bach parts, but my 
face shall not be seen. "Whether this refers to some visible personal 
appearance of God, that should be made to Moses — or whether 
the whole is a mere figurative expression, is uncertain. I know 
of no sufficient reason why we should not suppose that it was a 
visible personal appearance of God, which should be made to 
Moses, and of which he should see only some less luminous part. 
It is true that the Father is never seen, nor does he ever assume 
a bodily form. But the Lord Jesus Christ, the equal of the 
Father, the co-eternal son of God, did often assume a bodily 
appearance, before his incarnation, and was seen by men, in 
greater or less displays of glory. There is nothing contrary to 
the analogy of Scripture in supposing that on this occasion, to 
reward the faith and prayers of his servant, he assumed a body 
like that he now bears in heaven. But a body so glorious as 
that is, could not be beheld by one who was still in the flesh. 
When Christ was transfigured in the mount, and Moses and 
Elijah were with him, his face did shine as the sun, and yet even 
then he held back half his glory, for how otherwise could Peter 
and James and John have looked upon him? So when Moses 
on this occasion was favored with a sight of that Kedeemer, of 
whom he was so eminent a type, he was not allowed to behold 
that intolerable brightness, which man cannot see and live ; but 
a display was made to him suited to the circumstances of his 
body, and the capacities of his mind. The Lord Jesus Christ, 
who is God over all blessed forever, Bom. ix. 5, and who was the 
giver of the law of the ten commandments, assumed a body, and 
appeared to Moses alone in the mount. He caused his goodness 
to pass before him, and revealed himself — but in condescension 
to the weakness of his creature, he covered his face until he had 
passed, and caused him to see only the retiring beams of his 
majesty. We cannot look upon the sun, but we gaze delighted 
on the gorgeous pencillings of the western sky, when he has set. 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



187 



Even so Moses, whose face was covered when the Lord was before 
him, beheld the glories that remained where the Lord had passed. 
Whether this display of the glory of the Lord was made to Moses 
at the time we are speaking of, or whether it was delayed until 
the time when he came up with the tables of stone, which were 
hewed, after the first were broken, is uncertain, and is of little 
consequence to be known. In either case the favor shown to 
Moses was great, and the revelation then made of the character 
of God most glorious. Moses was commanded to come up alone 
to the mountain ; no other was to come with him. In this he was 
a type of Christ. Moses was the mediator and intercessor for 
Israel, and as he stood alone before God, to plead for his people, 
so Christ our mediator, is our only advocate and intercessor. 
There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 
1 Tim. ii. 5. Moses went up to the mount ; and again the Lord 
descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, Exod. xxxiv. o. 
But though he came in a cloud, it was not with that fearful 
magnificence with which he had appeared to Israel. Moses was 
a favored child, and now the Lord revealed to him the mild radi- 
ance of his love, that filled his soul with peace. He proclaimed 
the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord, is commonly used, 
either for the Lord himself, or for his character, and to proclaim 
his name, is to set forth his character, and declare his excellency. 
How great and glorious is our God ! What one of the gods of 
the heathen pretended to any of the excellencies which we adore 
in Jehovah our Creator? The Lord passed by before him, and pro- 
claimed, Jehovah, Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering 
and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, 
forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and that will by no means 
clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, 
and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth 
generation. Moses was in the very presence-chamber of the 
Almight}^, and without delay he embraced the opportunity again 
to plead for Israel. He made haste and bowed his head toward the 
earth, and worshipped. And he said, Lf now I have found grace in 
thy sight, oh Lord, let my Lord I pray thee go among us; for it is a 
stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us 
for thine inheritance, Exod. xxxiv. 6-9. His prayer was heard 
and answered, for when did the prayer-hearing God neglect such 
faith and prayer as those of Moses? There are blessings, for 
which he will be inquired of by the house of Israel, before he 



188 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



will do it for them ; but never yet has he said to any of the seed 
of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. Is. xlv. 19. 

3. Once before had Moses been in the mount alone with God, 
and for forty days he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. 
He now spent another similar period there, but what his employ- 
ments were, we are not informed. Day by day the sun rose, and 
pursued his course and set again — day after day did Israel look 
up to the mountain's top for the return of their leader ; but days 
and weeks passed away, and still Moses was alone with God. 
What revelations of the divine character must have been made 
to him then ! How must his soul have expanded, as he drank 
in richer and yet richer draughts from the original fountain of 
all goodness and blessedness ! ~No other son of Adam ever has 
enjoyed such opportunities of communion with his Creator, as 
were granted to Moses. At last, the forty days passed away. 
To Moses, they probably seemed but a few hours, for joy counts 
not the passing moments. But to Israel, who awaited his return 
with anxious expectation, they must have seemed long. At last, 
they behold him descending the mountain, with the tables of the 
testimony, the sign of God's reconciliation, in his hand. It would 
be a subject for a painter's skill, to depict the eagerness with 
which they ran to meet and welcome his return. But why do 
even Aaron, and the elders, as well as the children of Israel, fear 
to come nigh him ? Yv^hy do they gaze upon him, as upon some 
celestial visitant ? Why must he call them, and urge them to 
come, that he may talk with them ? It was because he had been 
living among the beams of the glory of God, and not only was 
his soul filled with his goodness, but even his body partook of the 
glory in which he had dwelt. He was not himself aware of it, for so 
completely was his attention engrossed with the character of God, 
and the displays he had seen in the mount, that he thought not 
of himself — but the shin of his face shone — and all men took knowl- 
edge of him that he had been with God, Exod. xxxv. 29-35. 
So bright was the radiance of his face when he came down from 
the mountain, that it was necessary for him to veil his face, in 
order that the Israelites might come near him. This was another 
mark of God's special favor towards him. Not only did he give 
him near and constant access to himself, but he put honor upon 
him before all men. There are but few examples of such tokens 
of God's favor to men. When Stephen was brought before the 
Jews, there seems to have been something in his appearance like 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



189 



that now presented by Moses. All the people saw him that his face 
was as it had been the face of an angel, Acts vi. 15. 

In this respect, also, Moses prefigured Christ. Our Lord was 
once transfigured, and his face did shine as the sun, and his 
raiment became white as the light. It is not probable that the 
glory of Moses was so great as this, but it was sufficient to sho\\ r 
in what favor he stood with God, and to give the people great 
ideas of that prophet, like unto Moses, who should hereafter appear, 
and of whom Moses in the law did speak. 

The account of the intercourse Moses had with God, to which 
we have now been attending, explains satisfactorily the reason of 
those excellent traits which we admire in his character. Few 
men are more worthy of our admiration and imitation, than 
Moses. Few men have been so highly honored in all ages, and 
few men have so richly deserved honor. In whatever point we 
contemplate the character of Moses, it is remarkably perfect. 
Naturally, it would seem, he was of a hasty spirit, and prone to 
speak and act under the impulses of passion. Such appears to 
have been the case, when he slew the Egyptian whom he found 
smiting an Israelite. Yet, it is very seldom we see any traces of 
this disposition in all his dealings with Israel. This was not for 
want of provocations, for they provoked him often, and grieved 
his spirit, rebelling against the Lord, and speaking unkindly to 
himself. Yet, so completely had he the control of himself, that 
it is recorded of him, that he was very meek above all the men that 
were upon the face of the earth, ISTumb. xii. 3. 

Moses was a man in whom we should naturally expect to see 
symptoms of pride. Brought up in the palace of Pharoah, with 
the wealth of Egypt at his command, yet afterwards giving up 
this, and becoming the head of a nation, whose slightest actions 
were noticed, and whose word was law, how naturally might he 
have taken credit to himself. But, on the contrary, he was ever 
humble in his own estimation. To say nothing of the low value 
he put on himself when he was called of God to stand before 
Pharaoh, he gave a striking proof of his forgetfulness of self, 
when he came down from the mount. His face shone so brightly, 
that Israel feared to come nigh him. Yet he was the last to 
notice it. His spirituality is equally remarkable with his meek- 
ness and humility. He might have sought great things for him- 
self. He might have become himself the head of a great nation. 
He might have placed his children in offices of trust and honor, 



190 



COMMUNION OF MOSES WITH GOD. 



instead of leaving them to be lost among the other descendants 
of Levi. But these were not the objects of his ambition. He 
was little in his own eyes, and, far from seeking the pleasures of 
this world, he cared only for those that belong to another. When 
he might have sought for any of the pleasures of the earth, his 
prayer to God was, I beseech thee show me thy glory ; and it does 
not appear that in all of the second period he spent in the mount, 
he did anything else but spend his time in spiritual exercises. 

These things may, at first sight, seem strange, but the reason 
is plain. Moses had seen God — had intimately known his charac- 
ter — and the natural effects of such knowledge, were to make 
him feel his own nothingness, the vanity of all things earthly, 
and the incalculable superiority of those that are eternal. How 
could a man, who had known God as Moses did, give way to 
passion or pride, or set any value on the trifling enjoyments of 
the world ? 

These are some of the benefits of studying the character of 
God, and were there no command, one would think that self- 
interest alone would prompt men to seek for such knowledge. 
But it is lamentable to see how little even those who call them- 
selves Christians, know of their Creator. His glory shines in the 
sun — it is seen in the world around us — it is felt in every step 
we take, and every action we perform, for in him we live, and 
move, and have our being. Yet how few there are whose notions 
concerning him are right. Most men think of him, as though he 
were in all respects such a one as themselves. To such, and to 
all men, I would say, in the words of Eliphaz, the Temanite, 
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at 'peace ; thereby good shall 
come unto thee. 

Macao, March 1*7, 1844. 



SEKMON XXII. 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING IN CHRIST. 

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled 
but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. — Psalm ii. 12. 

The second Psalm was composed by David, the king of Is- 
rael. This is evident, because, though his name is not attached 
to it, in the book of Psalms, it is expressly ascribed to him by 
the company of the apostles, Acts iv. 25. It is uncertain at what 
period of his life it was composed, though a probable conjecture 
is, that it was after he was seated on the throne of Israel, but 
before he saw all his enemies vanquished. It takes its tone and 
coloring from the circumstances of his own life, and very proper- 
ly, for there never was a more eminent type of Christ than he. 
There can be no doubt that its chief reference is to Christ, of 
whom it forms a very striking and important prophecy. It can- 
not be entirely and satisfactorily explained, unless it be admitted 
to be a prophecy of Christ ; but with such an admission, its ex- 
planation is easy, while the frequent quotations from it in the 
New Testament, place this point beyond a doubt. 

The Psalm is to some extent dramatic in its composition. It 
opens with an address from the prophet, exposing the opposition 
made by the rulers and people of the earth, to the kingdom of 
Christ. The prophet then declares the folly and danger of such 
opposition to God, and introduces Jehovah himself declaring his 
firm purpose that his anointed one shall rule over all, and possess 
supreme authority. This is followed by an address to all kings, 
rulers, and people; exhorting them to submit to this exalted 
personage, and showing the benefits of such submission. 

Although J esus Christ is the rightful ruler of this world, both 
in virtue of his own divine nature, and of his Father's appoint- 
ment, yet his kingdom has ever been opposed by men, and has 
been upheld only by constant exertions of the divine power. 



192 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING IN CHRIST. 



When lie came into the world he found few to welcome him, but 
many to contend against him. He came unto his own, but his 
own received him not. His life was a constant contest with the 
rulers and the people of the Jews, and to human eyes, a most 
unequal and unpromising one. What could an unarmed leader 
with a band of unlearned fishermen, do against the power and 
the wisdom of Judea, of Greece, and of Rome ? Nor were his 
enemies slow to perceive their advantages, and to use to the ut- 
most, all that they possessed. Of a truth, against him were 
gathered together, both Herod the king of Judea, and Pontius 
Pilate the Roman governor, and the Gentiles and the people of 
Israel, Acts iv. 27. To all this the Psalmist refers, in the first 
three verses of the Psalm. Why do the heathen rage and the people 
imagine a vain thing f The kings of the earth set themselves and the 
rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, 
saying, Let us break these bands asunder and cast away their cords 
from us. The prophecy informs us distinctly that such opposition 
shall ever be made to Christ, though the very form in wnich it is 
expressed shows that it will ever be fruitless, and that it will 
return with double loss on the heads of the opposers. Such was 
the case with Julian, the Roman emperor, who after being educa- 
ted in the Christian faith, gave all his energies to the work of its 
destruction. He pleased himself with the hopes of success, but 
in the midst of his career, he met his death wound on the field of 
battle, and saw that all his efforts were fruitless. Stung with the 
reflection, he gathered a handful of blood as it trickled from his 
wound, and throwing it in the air, exclaimed, "Thou hast con- 
quered, Oh Galilean." In our own times the same has been 
repeatedly witnessed. Yoltaire and his associates "took counsel 
together" and united their efforts to cast from them every tie that 
bound them to their Maker. With what success, let the dying 
agonies of Yoltaire speak, when he cried for mercy to that same 
Being he had once called a wretch. And as if the more remark- 
ably to show their failure, the very press on which Yoltaire and 
his companions printed their infidel publications against Christ, 
is now employed in printing religious tracts that testify of Christ. 

How can it be otherwise ? They who contend against Christ 
contend not against men, but against God, and who may hope to 
succeed in such a contest ? How shall finite cope with infinite, 
or the creatures of a day prevail against the eternal J ehovah ? 
Who shall set the briers and thorns in array against that God who 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING- IN CHRIST. 



193 



is a consuming fire, without incurring the charge of folly? Shall 
not he who sitteth in the heavens, laugh at their impotent rage ? 
Shall not the Lord have them all in derision, when they seek to 
drag him from his throne, or alter the decrees he has established? 

But it is worse than folly thus to contend with God, or to 
refuse obedience to his anointed. Such conduct must inevitably 
provoke his anger, and call forth his vengeance, and who may 
stand when once he is angry? He dhall speak unto them in his wrath, 
and vex them in Ins sore displeasure. The wrath of even an earthly 
king is as the roaring of a lion, but how much more terrible is that 
of the great King of kings, the mere blast of the breath of whose 
nostrils dries up the channels of the sea, and discovers the founda- 
tions of the world? 2 Sam. xxii. 16. 

Thus far the prophet speaks of the folly and danger of those 
who resist the anointed of God. In the succeeding part of the 
Psalm, he shows us the firm purposes of God, respecting Christ; 
the honor bestowed upon him ; and the authority he should 
possess. The Father himself speaks first, I have set (or as it is in 
the margin, / have anointed,) my King upon my holy hill of Zion. 
The Lord Jesus Christ is a King, and his kingdom, though not of 
this world, or not like the kingdoms of men, is yet in the world, 
and numbers men among its subjects. He is consecrated by God 
the Father, to be head over all things, to the church, Eph. i. 22, 
and he is set upon his throne so firmly, that no tumults or stri- 
vings of men, even though they rage like the boiling ocean 
against the rocks, can avail to overturn or render it insecure. Je- 
hovah himself has placed him on that throne, and we may 
without fear imitate the apostle, who applies to him the words of 
the xlv. Psalm, Thy throne, Oh God, is forever and ever, Ps. xlv. 6. 

In the seventh verse of the Psalm, the Son himself, the anoint- 
ed King, is represented as speaking, I will declare the decree. The 
reference is doubtless to that eternal decree, in virtue of which 
he was constituted Mediator, and Saviour of the world, and as 
such invested with additional right to supreme authority. I say 
additional right, because by reason of his own divine nature, the 
Son always possessed equal authority with the Father. The 
words that immediately follow, The Lord hath said unto me, Thou 
art my Son, this day have 1 begotten thee, are introductory to the 
decree which he was about to declare. Their meaning is r "T now 
make it publicly manifest, and proclaim it to the world that thou 
art my Son, like myself in the possession of the divine nature, in 

13 



194 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING IN" CHRIST. 



power and in glory." The reference here, is chiefly to the resur- 
rection of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he was declared to be the 
Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the res- 
urrection from the dead, Eom. i. 4. The resurrection of Christ 
was the seal of all he did, and the coniirmation of all he had 
undertaken or promised ; for if Christ be not risen, then is our 
preaching in vain, and your faith is also vain, 1 Cor. xv. 14. 

The decree spoken of in the seventh, verse, is contained in the 
eighth, and ninth verses. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the hea- 
then for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy 
possession. Thou shalt break them ivith a rod of iron : thou shalt 
dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Such is the decree respect- 
ing Christ. It was formed in the councils of the adorable Trin- 
ity, long ere the world began. It is inscribed in the eternal rec- 
ords of heaven. It was proclaimed by Christ himself, through, 
the mouth, of his servant David, and through other prophets du- 
ring a long series of ages. It has already begun to receive its 
fulfilment, and every indication in the future — every lesson from 
the past — promises that it shall receive a glorious accomplishment. 
There is no nation, however remote, that shall not submit to 
Christ ; no superstition however deeply rooted, that he shall not 
pluck up ; and no opposition however strong, that shall not be 
broken by the iron rod he bears. At times it seems scarce pos- 
sible that these expectations should be realized, and those who cher- 
ish them are commonly characterized as visionary enthusiasts. The 
enemies of Christ are numerous, and powerful, and they combine 
all their energies to defeat his plans. But how vain are their ef- 
forts. The decree has gone forth, and it shall be executed. Its 
course is like the torrent that sweeps from the mountains. The 
barriers that are thrown before it may obstruct it for a moment, 
but only till its waters have had time to rise above them, and then 
they add to the volume and force of the conquering flood. Flight 
and resistance are equally useless. Hath God said, and shall he 
not do it f Hath he spoken and shall he not make it good t Num. 
xxiii. 19. 

Such are the circumstances on which the exhortation of the 
text is founded. It is an exhortation addressed primarily to the 
kings and judges of the earth, inasmuch as they are most prone to 
think themselves exalted above even the power of him who placed 
them on their thrones. Be wise now therefore oh ye kings, be in- 
structed ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING IK CHEIST. 



195 



■sitli trembling. The remainder of the exhortation, which forms 
the text of this discourse, is equally applicable to all men ; to the 
noble and the base, to the ruler and the subject alike. It con- 
tains in itself the gospel in miniature, being an outline of the du- 
ties to be performed, of the dangers of disobedience, and of the 
reward of those who believe. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and 
ye perish f rom the way when his wrath is kindled but a little. Bless- 
ed are all they that put their trust in him. 

The command, lass the Son, has reference to the ancient mode 
of expressing, not merely affection, but the highest degree of loyal- 
ty and veneration. When David parted from good old Barzil- 
lai. he kissed him and blessed him, 2 Sam. xix. 39. This was sim- 
ply a token of affection and esteem. When Samuel anointed Saul, 
he kissed him, 1 Sam. x. 1. This was a token of cheerful and affec- 
tionate loyalty, a profession of his willingness to be under the rule 
of Saul, for he said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be 
captain of his inheritance? In the ancient idolatrous worship, it 
was very common to show their veneration and devotion by the 
same token, so that it even passed into a proverb. Let the men 
that sacrifice Jciss the calf Hos. xiii. 2. All of these ideas are in- 
cluded more or less in the command of the text, Kiss the Son. 
Acknowledge him as your God and King, give him the veneration 
and devotion which some prostitute to idols. Let him reign su- 
preme in your hearts, and serve him with that affectionate loyal- 
ty, which so beneficent a King deserves. This is not an unreason- 
able requisition. Were we required to show such affection and 
loyalty and veneration to a mere man, we might well hesitate ; 
for what child of Adam has ever lived who deserves such sub- 
mission, from all men, of all lands, and all ages ? But Christ Je- 
sus has a right, to all that we can give. In his own divinity he 
sits upon the throne, and the highest seraphs bow before him. 
Xot only so, but he bears a special and peculiar relation to our 
world. For us he was anointed a King upon the holy hill of Zion. 
For us he bore the sorrows and sufferings of life on earth, and of 
death upon the cross. For us he rose triumphant over death and 
the grave, — and for us he sits at the right hand of Cod ever to in- 
tercede for us. Has not a being who has shown us so much love 
— who has done so much already, and is prepared to do still more 
for us — a right to claim all the tribute which our hearts can give 
him ? And how much more is this obvious, when we consider, 
that there is a special and solemn command of our Creator requir- 



196 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING IN CHRIST. 



ing this. All men shall honor the Son, even as they honor the Father, 
John v. 23. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee 
shall how to me, and every tongue shall confess to God, Eom. xiv. 11. 

There are many who regard this as a matter of little impor- 
tance, and who not only take it for granted, but freely express 
the opinion, that it is scarcely worth while to be so particular on 
this point. They fancy that God will not much regard their 
want of reverence for his Son ; nor will the all-merciful Saviour 
visit too severely any omission of duty towards himself. Whence 
this opinion rose, it might be hard for some to say, but certainly 
it finds no countenance in the words of the Psalmist. On the 
contrary, the very next words declare most plainly, that any 
failure on this point will be visited with the severest chastise- 
ment. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry. He will have a right to be 
angry, for he has a right to your devotions ; and his anger is not 
like the anger of men, a mere puff of noisy breath, or, at most, a 
source of injury to our bodies. He is the Grod of the spirits of 
all flesh, and his anger, once aroused, shall burn against them 
forever. Lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his 
wrath is kindled but a little. How forcible are these expressions ! 
Lest he be angry. The anger of man is so common, that we are 
not surprised at it, and generally so powerless, that we do not 
fear it. Not so the anger of Christ. It is a fearful thing, to 
think of provoking the merciful Saviour to anger. Yet it can be 
done, and among all the terrible expressions of the Bible, I know 
of none so truly awful as that one, the wrath of the Lamb. ISTo 
wonder that men, in the vain desire to escape it, shall in that day 
cry to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the 
face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the 
Lamb, Eev. vi. 16. How will those who now think so lightly of 
the Lord Jesus, dare to look upon him when he shall be revealed 
from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance 
on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus 
n/irist, 2 Thess. i. 7, 8. 

And ye perish from the way. It is a sorrowful thing, even in 
the affairs of this life, to lose one's road, and wander in the wil- 
derness, or float across the ocean, until famine or fatigue cause 
us to perish. But infinitely more so is it to lose that only way 
that leads to life, and to wander among the dark mountains, until 
the soul perish forever. Yet to this danger all those are exposed, 
who provoke the anger of Christ. And think not to say, But my 



THE BLESSING OF TRUSTING IN CHRIST. 197 

sins are comparatively insignificant, and though he may disap- 
prove of them, he will not ronse all his anger against me. It is 
true he will not, for if he did, no mortal could stand for one 
moment. It is not needful to awaken all the anger of the 
Saviour. When his anger is hindled but a little, you shall perish 
from the way. The way of life — the way of joy — the way of 
peace — nay, even the way of hope, you can no more tread, if 
once his anger is kindled against you but a little. 

Are such the consequences of neglect or contempt of Christ ? 
What, then, may those expect, who pursue the contrary course, 
and, by a life of unceasing obedience, show that their hearts are 
full of affection and veneration for him ? The question is easier 
asked, than answered. In our version, the Psalmist says, Blessed 
are all they that put their trust in him ; but this by no means 
expresses the full force of the original. More literally, it is, Oh, 
the blessednesses of those who put their trust in him! The Psalmist is 
filled with admiration at the very thought of their blessings, 
though he does not here enumerate them. But it is easy to 
gather some of them from other passages of the word of God. 
The Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed, 
Eom. x. 11. The disciples of Christ are often scorned and 
reviled, and many are ashamed to be called by his name. Be it 
so. There is a day coming, when all nations shall be assembled 
before his throne, and other worlds shall be spectators of the 
scene. There will be no shame on the faces of his disciples then, 
when he calls to them, Gome, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the 
kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the ivorld, Matt. 

xxv. 34. There will be shame on the faces of those who now 
despise him, when the Son of man shall be ashamed of them before 
his Father, and before his holy angels, Mark viii. 38. But this 
blessedness is not all deferred to that distant day. Even now, 
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, for he shall be as a tree 
planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, 
Jer. xvii. 7, 8. And amidst all the storms and tempests of this 
changing scene, there are blessings for him that the world know- 
eth not. The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest. 
There is no peace to the wicked. But thou wilt keep him in perfect 
peace ivhose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee, Is. 

xxvi. 3. 



Macao, March 31, 1844. 



SERMON XXIII. 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. 

And he spake this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were 
righteous, and despised others : Two men went up into the temple to pray, the 
one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus 
with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, un- 
just, adulterers, or even as this publican, I fast twice in the week, I give tithes 
of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so 
much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful 
to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than 
the other ; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased : and he that hum- 
bleth himself shall be exalted. — Luke xviii. 9-14. 

During our Saviour's short ministry on earth, he mingled in 
all classes of society. The poor crowded around him to partake 
of his bounty, and hear his gracious words. The rich invited 
him to their houses, or followed in his train from curiosity, or 
with designs to watch and inform against him. Some came to 
hear his wisdom, others to see his mighty works. The Pharisee 
came to uphold his own cause against this new enemy, and boast 
of his own good deeds, — while the sinner who found pardon and 
peace nowhere else, came to bathe his feet with tears. He had 
instructions for all, for he knew what was in man, and was inti- 
mately acquainted with all their wants. Hence his instructions 
were always appropriate, nor need we be surprised to learn that 
they were often unpleasant to his hearers. He was a skilful phy- 
sician to cure diseased souls ; and the instruments he used were 
sharp, and the medicines employed were bitter. Yet unpleasant 
as were his words at times, he never failed to declare the whole 
truth to all his hearers. 

Of this we have a striking example in the parable before us. 
It is one addressed to his contemporaries, but meant for all ages, 
for it combats an error that will exist as long as there shall be 
sinful men in the world. 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. 



199 



It was spoken to those who trusted in themselves that they zuere 
righteous, who supposed that their own works were so good as to 
be a foundation for justification and acceptance with God. This 
is a most common and natural error. It has its origin in a pas- 
sion strong as the love of life itself — even in that vanity which 
makes men utterly loathe to think meanly of themselves, or to 
acknowledge that they have no good works to merit the favor of 
God. Yet this trusting to one's own righteousness implies a most 
criminal ignorance of the character of God and of one's self. No 
one can rightly understand the purity of the nature of Jehovah, 
and compare it with his own wickedness, without being struck 
dumb with shame. Always it has been so, that those who have 
known most of God have been the most humble. When Abra- 
ham was allowed to commune with God in behalf of Sodom, he 
used expressions showing the most entire want of confidence in 
himself. Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, 
which am but dust and ashes, Gen. xviii. 27. And when holy Job 
not only heard of God by the hearing of the ear, but also saw 
him with his eyes, then he abhorred himself, and repented in dust 
and ashes, Job xlii. 6. 

It was strange that the Pharisees, with the law of God in their 
hands, and all its requisitions of perfect holiness, and with the ex- 
amples of their patriarchs confessing their own unworthiness, 
could still trust in themselves that they were righteous. Yet not 
only did they trust in themselves — they also despised others; 
which alone was a certain proof of their being false professors. 
A true child of God certainly esteems others better than himself. 
He knows the sinfulness of his own heart much better than he 
knows that of others, he feels that he is but a brand plucked from 
the burning, and that he may himself fall even as disgracefully as 
David did. How can such a one despise others, who have not 
enjoyed the privileges granted to him? Yet nothing is more 
common than for men to pride themselves on their own goodness, 
and esteem meanly those who do not come up to their own stand- 
ard. And common as it is, nothing is more abominable to God. 
It is bad enough to be sinful, but it is intolerable to shut one's 
own eyes to a sense of sinfulness — to cover it with the false show 
of goodness, and to despise those less favored, and therefore per- 
haps more openly transgressors of the law. This is really rob- 
bing God, for it is ascribing to ourselves the praise of his gifts. 
To us it is hateful to hear any man say to another, stand by, for I 



200 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. 



am holier than thou. But to a God of infinite purity, in whose 
sight we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses 
as filthy rags, it must be an offence of unspeakable magnitude. 

Our Saviour met with such conduct in every step of his public 
ministry. Jewish society was essentially religious, at least its 
forms were such, and while religion was fashionable, open sin was 
disreputable, and men of bad habits were outcasts. Of all the 
classes of Jewish society, the Pharisees were the most attentive to 
the outward observances of the law, and the Publicans the least. 
The Pharisees sat in Moses 7 seat, and expounded the precepts of 
his law. Their theology was correct. They believed in the ex- 
istence of a God, of a future state, of rewards and punishments, 
and of the necessity of good works and of a blameless life. They 
held to all the law, and especially its rites and ceremonies, of 
which they were careful even to - scrupulosity. No fire would 
they kindle on the Sabbath day — no washing of hands or of cups 
and platters would they omit — they tithed mint and anise and cum- 
min, and many of them might boast, as did Paul, that touching 
the righteousness which is of the law, they were blameless. Nay, 
as if all this were not enough, they had added their own tradi- 
tions to the law of God, and imposed additional weights on the 
burden which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. 
By these things they had made the law of God of none effect. 
The object of the law is, like a schoolmaster to lead men to 
Christ, by showing how far we come short of obeying its requisi- 
tions. But from ignorance of its true nature, they prided them- 
selves on having obeyed it perfectly. They had a high opinion 
of themselves — were constantly justifying themselves, and boast- 
ing of their descent from Abraham, of their circumcision, and 
their keeping of the law. Some of them, like Paul before his 
conversion, were probably sincere, and verily thought they were 
doing G-od service ; but the greater part were mere hypocrites, 
and utterly hateful in the sight of God. How awful were the de- 
nunciations uttered against them by our Saviour in the xxiii. of 
Matthew. You have seen a dark cloud as it slowly rises and 
overspreads the heaven. Muttering thunders roll, and then 
louder and louder blasts reverberate through the heavens. The 
vivid lightnings dart across the heavens, revealing fearfully the 
gloom around, and prostrating the pride of the forests. So fear- 
ful were the words of Christ, Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, 
hypocrites ! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have 



THE PUBLICAN" AND THE PHARISEE. 



201 



omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. 
Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites 1 for ye are like unto 
lohited sepulchres, ivhich indeed appear beautiful outward, but are with- 
in fall of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Ye serpents, ye 
generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell, Matt, 
xxiii. 23, 27, 33. 

The publicans were the lowest class in Judea, commonly they 
were renegade Jews, or foreigners. They were tax gatherers to 
the Romans, which alone was sufficient to render them odious. 
The Jewish nation prided themselves on having never been in 
bondage to any man, and after they were forced to bear the 
Roman yoke, it was a common subject of discussion among them, 
whether it were lawful to pay tribute to Caesar or not? Wot only 
were they hated as being the signs and the instruments of their 
servitude, but they were more justly unpopular on account of 
their extortions, excesses, and cruelty, in exacting more than 
was appointed, and increasing their wealth by false accusations. 
Hence they were hated by all, but especially by the self-righteous 
Pharisees, who counted it sinful to associate with them, or partake 
of their food. Publicans and harlots, were terms of equal re- 
proach, and the Pharisees saw few things in Christ to which they 
objected more, than his eating with publicans and sinners. Yet 
probably in the sight of God, the Pharisees were greater sinners 
than they. He sees not as man sees. He estimates sin by its 
principles, and by the opportunities and the light enjoyed by the 
person offending. It is a great mistake to suppose that those are 
the greatest sins which are most obvious, and most disreputable 
among men. They are the sins of the heart, unbelief and pride, 
and ambition and covetousness, which is idolatry, which God 
most abhors. 

The Pharisees felt sure of God's favor, and despised the pub- 
licans, as persons who could have no claim or expectation of his 
mercies. To their eyes it seemed as though the door of heaven 
were set wide open for themselves, but closed against all others. 
In the parable, Christ shows them their mistake. 

Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and 
the other a publican. The temple was the place where all sacrifices 
were offered, and all public and solemn acts of worship were per- 
formed. Thither went up the tribes of Israel, for there God had 
promised to give peculiar tokens of his presence and favor. Its 
doors stood open, and none however vile were excluded. The 



202 



THE PUBLICAN" AND THE PHARISEE. 



worshippers took different positions, as fancy, or convenience, or 
self-esteem directed. Some dared not go beyond the door, while 
others, with confidence, advanced towards the inner temple. 
What varied characters were collected at times within those 
walls, and how varied the objects for which they came. Here 
was aged Simeon, ready to depart in peace having seen the salva- 
tion of the Lord, and here was the young mother come to present 
the customary offerings on the birth of her first born. Here was 
the proselyte from a distant land, and here was the Israelite with 
his sin-offering, or his burnt-offering, or his thank-offering. The 
rich and the poor met together here, for the Lord who was the 
maker of them both, called each alike to his temple. 

It is a hazardous thing for man to attempt to read the charac- 
ters of his fellows, and were we to attempt to pronounce on the 
characters of those who at any time stood in the temple, we 
should not probably judge as God does. 

The Pharisee, doubtless, far within the door, stood by himself; 
he disdained to associate with the crowd, or to offer up his prayers 
in common with the other worshippers. But what a prayer he 
offered ! In form it was a thanksgiving, but in fact, a boasting 
of his own good deeds. He enumerates his own righteousnesses 
with great self-complacency, as so many certificates of stock in 
the bank of heaven, all acquired by his own industry. He was not 
like other men. He was not an extortioner; he was not unjust; 
he was not an adulterer ; he was not even as bad as the publican 
who had dared to come with him to the house of God. We may 
without hesitation admit that he spoke truly — that he had not 
committed these crimes. Many of the Pharisees made religion 
only a cloak for their covetousness, but others, in outward deport- 
ment, were blameless and sincere. Like Paul they had a zeal for 
God, though it was not according to knowledge. But not only 
was this man free from outward vices, he was also a doer of good, 
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all I possess. Probably he 
also gave alms to the poor, for this commonly was practised by 
those who fasted and paid tithes. 

Such was the ground of his expectation of the favor of God — 
freedom from open vices and the practice of the outward acts of 
religion. Not a word does he say of sin — not a confession of ill- 
desert — not a request for mercy and grace. No mention of a 
Saviour, or an atonement. All is calm undoubting self-depend- 
ence. Yet it was most strange that with all the evidence to the 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. 



203 



contrary, he could still so confide in himself. What a contrast 
is there between the spirit of his prayer, and of the Psalms of 
David, in which we read of the blessedness of him whose sins are 
covered, Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. How different his description of himself 
from that Jeremiah gives of the nature of man : The heart is de- 
ceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? 
Jer. xvii. 9, 10. What a different lesson was taught by the sacri- 
fices which morning and evening were offered in that place of 
prayer ! How then was it possible for him thus to come before 
God ? The reason is plain. He had the law of God in his hands, 
and was familiar with the letter of its precepts, but its spirit he 
had never comprehended. He was alive without the law, for it 
was holy and just and good, but he was carnal and sold under 
sin. He knew not the plague of his own heart, and would have 
been as much surprised as Mcodemus was, to hear Christ say, 
Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, John 
iii. 3. In these respects he was a perfect picture of the greater 
part of men called Christians in our days. Those who are free 
from gross vices, who read their Bibles, and attend the house of 
God with regularity, consider that their lives are so meritorious 
that they need fear nothing. What lack I yet? is the question 
with which they triumphantly close their account of the grounds 
of their hope before God. 

The Pharisee came to the temple, ostensibly to pray, but 
really to boast of himself. But what brought the publican there ? 
It was no strange sight to see the Pharisee in the temple, but the 
Publicans commonly kept at a distance. Perhaps it was some afflic- 
tion that befel him, which first led him to think of spiritual things. 
More probably it was the word of God, which in some way had 
found access to his heart, and fastened on his conscience. He had 
no showy virtues to build a hope upon, and he felt that within he 
had no ground of confidence. He knew that he was a sinner. Per- 
haps his views of sin were very indistinct ; but he began to realize 
that God was an holy God, and would execute the punishment of 
the law upon the sinner, if some other way of escape were not 
found. A dreadful sound was in his ears — a voice sounded — 
Flee from the wrath to come ! But whither flee ? He came to the 
temple, if perhaps God might be gracious to him. But it was a 
place to which he had not been accustomed to come, and he felt 
as a stranger there. It was years since he had even heard a 
prayer. And when he came up, and saw the altar and the 



204 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE, 



smoking sacrifices, the glittering vessels of the temple, and the 
priests in their priestly robes, with the worshippers around them, 
he was overpowered with the sense of his own un worthiness. He 
felt like an outcast among such men, and did not dare to come 
near them. Still less would he presume to come near the Pharisee, 
who stood so close to the mercy-seat. Accordingly, lie stood afar 
off- 

And if he felt unworthy to mingle with the other worship- 
pers, or to stand on the same footing with them, how much more, 
when he thought of that pure and holy God unto whom he was 
about to address his prayer. He repented, and abhorred himself. 
He did not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but in sign of his 
deep contrition and sorrow for sin, he smote upon his breast, and ut- 
tered the simple, but heartfelt prayer, God be merciful unto me a sin- 
ner. How short, yet how expressive ! His heart was borne down 
with the load of sin, and his whole soul deepty humbled before 
God. He made no attempt to conceal, or to palliate, much less 
to justify his evil course. His only plea was for mercy. If God 
were not gracious he had no hope of salvation. Like Esther 
when she went uncalled into the presence of Ahasuerus, his feel- 
ing was, I will go unto the Icing, and if I perish, I perish, Est. iv. 16. 
He reasoned like the lepers who sat before the gate of Samaria. 
Why sit we here, until we die f If we say ive will enter into the city, 
then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there : and if we sit still 
here, ive shall die also. Now therefore come and let us fall unto the 
host of the Syrians : if they save us alive, we shall live, and if they kill 
us, ive shall but die, 2 Kings vii. 3, 4. Thus reasoned the publican, 
and wisely. If God should be merciful unto him, he should live, 
but if not, there was no other who could save him ; and it was 
better to perish while knocking at mercy's gate, than to perish 
elsewhere. But none ever perished there. Thanks be unto God, 
he will cast out none who come unto him in Christ's name. 
There is hope in the cross of Christ, even for the chief of sinners ; 
and this is the only hope, on which the publican, the thief on the 
cross, the persecuting Saul, and we ourselves can depend. 

The publican's faltering prayer was accepted, while the boast- 
ing speech of the Pharisee was unheard and neglected. The 
broken voice of the first sounded like sweet music in the ears of 
the prayer-hearing God, but the other was discord and mockery ; 
and the publican went down to his house justified rather than the other. 
The reason is found in that general rule of God's government, 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. 



205 



Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth 
himself shall be exalted, Matt, xxiii. 12. This parable was spoken 
for the benefit of those who lived when Christ was on earth, and 
it was left on record for our instruction. The lessons we may 
derive from it are these. 

1. External morality is not enough to secure our salvation. I 
know of scarce any other truth of the Bible that needs to be so 
constantly insisted on as this, for on almost no point are men so 
apt to err. The desire to justify ourselves is so strong, that even 
at the judgment seat of Christ, the wicked shall attempt it, Luke 
xiii. 25. Were a man to obey the law of God perfectly, his mo- 
rality certainly would save him — he would enter heaven on his 
own merits. But where is such a man to be found ? Where is 
the just man that doeth good and sinneth not? You and I, my 
hearers, have never yet seen such a man. All have sinned — all 
have gone out of the way, and how then is it possible for any of 
us to deserve the favor of God. If our whole duty belongs to 
God, and we fail in one part, will the performance of the other 
part make up for that which is lacking ? If a man owes you ten 
thousand pounds, and defrauds you of one thousand, do you 
count him just, because he pays the other nine ? Do you not 
rather seize him, and cast him into prison till he pays you every 
farthing ? Is it just in you to act thus ; and is it not also just in 
God ? Verily 1 say unto you, that except your righteousness shall ex- 
ceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case 
enter into heaven, Matt. v. 20. Morality is good, but the reason 
of our salvation is found in the cross of Christ ; and those who 
are saved by the cross, as a consequence, become moral. The 
Pharisees were excluded, while publicans and harlots entered. 
The nominal Christian is lost, while they who were heathen are 
saved. The one trusts in himself that he is righteous, while the 
other, destitute of all self-confidence, flees to the cross of Christ 
for shelter. 

2. It is a great and grievous sin, to despise those beneath us — 
counting ourselves the favorites of God, and them the vessels of 
his wrath. Were Ave free from all sin, and able to search the 
hearts of others, we might perhaps do this with impunity ; but 
who is there that dares to say, Stand by thyself, come not near to 
me ; for I am holier than thou ? Is. lv. 5. Not thus did Moses and 
Abraham and David act — not thus did Paul and the apostles 
speak. This comparing of ourselves, measuring ourselves, and 



206 



THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. 



judging of ourselves, not by the word of God, but by others around 
us, is a bad sign, and the fruitful source of many evils. Jacob 
confessed himself less than the least of all God's mercies, Gen. xxxii. 
10 ; and Paul declared, / am less than the least of all saints, 
Eph. iii. 8. 

3. Finally. Learn hence, how precious is the grace of humility 
in the sight of God. Before him even the highest angels veil their 
faces — before him the holiest saints prostrate themselves in lowly 
reverence ; and shall a sinful mortal presume to boast in his pres- 
ence ? The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; a broken and a con- 
trite heart, God will not despise, Ps. li. 17, for, though the Lord be 
high yet hath he respect unto the lowly ; but the proud he Jcnoweth afar 
off, Ps. cxxxviii. 6. 

Pride is natural unto man, and humility distasteful, but a little 
self-knowledge brings down every high thought, and a little 
knowledge of God as he is, humbles the Christian to the very dust. 
Then it is that he experiences the richest blessings from his Crea- 
tor. Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose 
name is holy / I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also, that 
is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and 
to revive the heart of the contrite ones, Is. lvii. 15. 

Macao, April 1, 1844. 



SEEM ON XXIV. 

MARTHA AND MARY. 

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village : and a cer- 
tain woman, named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister 
called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha wa3 
cumbered about much serving, and came to him and said, Lord, dost thou not 
care that my sister hath left me to serve alone ? bid her therefore that she help 
me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and 
troubled about many things : but one thing is needful : and Mary hath chosen that 
good part which shall not be taken away from her. — Luke x. 38-42. 

From the time that Jesus Christ entered on his public minis- 
try, until his death upon the cross, he had no certain dwelling 
place. He was sent unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, 
and though he probably spent more time about Jerusalem than 
elsewhere, yet he was constantly traversing the land with his dis- 
ciples. Wherever he went he was dependent on the kindness of 
friends for food and for lodging ; for he rarely wrought miracles 
to supply his own wants, and wealth he had none. The foxes 
had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but the Son of man had 
not where to lay his head, Luke ix. 58. Among all those who min- 
istered to him, we read of none more frequently than the family 
consisting of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, who lived in Bethany. 
This was a small village in a little valley, on the east side of Jeru- 
salem, distant not quite two miles. The Mount of Olives lay 
between Jerusalem and Bethany, and hither our Saviour often 
resorted to spend the night, after preaching all day in the temple. 
When he became acquainted with this family, does not appear, 
nor is it important to know. Perhaps it was on the occasion men- 
tioned in the text. Few families were ever so favored as this, 
for Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus, and often vis- 
ited them, John xi. 5. 

It is not probable that the family were wealthy, though from 
the circumstances, that Mary once anointed Jesus with a box of 



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precious ointment very costly, and that when Lazarus died, many 
Jews came to console the sisters, John xi. 19, xii. 3, we may sup- 
pose that they were in comfortable circumstances, and well es- 
teemed. 

On the occasion referred to in the text, Jesus and his disciples 
were journeying about as usual, and while they continued their 
course, perhaps to their friends in Jerusalem, he stopped to re- 
pose in Bethany. Martha, who was the eldest, and the head of 
the family, received him into her house. It was not the first time 
that our Lord received charity at the hands of a woman, for we 
read before this time, of Mary Magdalene, and Joanna the wife 
of Herod's steward, and Susannah, and many others, which minis- 
tered to him of their substance, Luke viii. 2, 3. It is here that we 
first read of Mary the sister of Martha. Some have confounded 
her with Mary Magdalene, but improperly, for the latter was of 
Galilee, while she was of Judea. Her name is well known, for 
her affection in anointing our Saviour, is spoken of for a memo- 
rial of her, wherever the gospel is preached, and all that we read 
of her shows her to have been a woman of deep and unaffected 
piety. Possessed of more softness and delicacy than Martha, with 
an humble and childlike spirit, she was one on whom our Lord 
must have looked with peculiar tenderness and affection. She sat 
at Jesus' feet and heard his word. When he came to their dwelling 
other occupations were laid aside, and she spent her time in lis- 
tening to his instructions. It is scarcely proper to s&y, that it is 
more becoming for one sex than the other, to be the childlike dis- 
ciples of Christ, for all have equal need of him ; and yet there is a 
peculiar beauty in seeing a female sitting at the feet of Christ, and 
learning of him who was meek and lowly in heart. A disregard 
of Christ is exceedingly sinful both in man and woman, but it is 
if possible more blameworthy in those who owe so much to the 
Christian religion, as the female sex does, and whose chief orna- 
ment — even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the 
sight of God is of great price, 1 Pet. iii. 4 — is obtained by obedience 
to its precepts. The character of Mary the sister of Martha, is 
one the child of God delights to contemplate ; but it is not Mary 
when weeping for Lazarus, nor even Mary when anointing Christ, 
that fixes the attention, so much as it is Mary when she sat at Je- 
sus' feet, and heard his word. 

But while Mary was thus occupied, where was Martha ? She 
also loved Jesus, — but her mind was not so spiritual as her sis- 



MARTHA AND MARY. 



209 



ter's, nor were her affections so placed on heavenly things. 
Martha was cumbered about much serving. In her anxiety to 
have everything comfortable for her guest, she suffered her mind 
to be drawn away, over-occupied and distracted with cares. 
Thus she lost an opportunity of hearing what kings and prophets 
had desired in vain to hear. She neglected the word of God 
that she might serve tables, though Christ cared little for those 
preparations. » His meat was to do the will of him that sent him. 
But her cares for her household matters, had worse effects than 
merely occupying her own time, and preventing her from hearing 
the words of Christ. It also tended to draw Mary off from her 
chosen and delightful post; for Martha, dissatisfied that Mary 
rendered her no assistance at the moment, came with some emo- 
tion and complained to Christ. Lord, dost thou not care that my 
sister hath left me to serve alone f Bid her, therefore, that she help 
one. Strange, that one whom Christ loved, and who loved Christ, 
should make such a request! Strange, that a true Christian 
should be so anxious about trifles that perish in the using, and 
neglect opportunities whose fruit should last forever! It were 
well, if there were no followers of Martha now; but the great 
mass even of the Christian church, have followed her example, 
rather than that of Mary ; even going to the length she did, in 
censuring those who exhibit more devotion to Christ than them- 
selves, and seeking to draw them into a greater conformity to the 
world. How frequently do we hear the cry now-a-days, " Such 
an one is too zealous — he neglects his duties to his own family in 
his zeal for others." So little is the nature of true religion under- 
stood, or its superior claims appreciated, that many are ready to 
misapply the words of the apostle in a widely-different case, and 
say of those who forsake their families, and the means of enrich- 
ing or aggrandizing themselves, for the cause of Christ, that they 
have "denied the faith, and are worse than infidels." Let all 
such hear the words of Christ, when he answered Martha, Her 
conduct was sufficiently strange, and deserved reproof ; but our 
merciful Lord dealt very gently with her. Oh, how often was 
he tried with the dulness of his disciples, and the coldness of his 
friends ! Yet, in patience and kindness, he instructed the igno- 
rant and the wayward — bearing with their weakness and provo- 
cations, and pointing them to better things. 

Instead of answering Martha directly, he kindly showed her 
her own mistakes, and contrasted the better course adopted by 

14 



210 



MARTHA AND MARY. 



Mary. Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many 
things. Careful, that is, anxious, disquieted, over-occupied. There 
is a carefulness that is necessary and wise, but it is not of such 
that Christ speaks. There is a carefulness, an anxiety about tem- 
poral things, that fills the mind, keeps thoughts of heaven out, 
and causes the affections to grovel on earth. It is a carefulness 
that so employs the mind, as to choke the thoughts of heavenly 
things — a carefulness which Christ compares to the thorns that 
choked the seed and rendered it unfruitful. Even so do the 
cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, prevent divine 
truth from having its due effect upon the heart. 

We are so dependent on our food and raiment, not only for 
comfort, but even for life, that it seems natural to make these the 
objects of our most careful and constant attention. The wants 
of the body are felt, and must be supplied ; and the habit of 
attending to them so grows with our growth, and strengthens 
with our strength, that we constantly give them the first place, 
and suffer the interests of the soul to lie neglected. The main 
question becomes, What shall we eat, what shall we drink, 
wherewithal shall we be clothed ? After all these things do the 
nations seek. But experience shows that much uncertainty 
attends our efforts to gain as much of these things as we want. 
Hence, the mind that makes them the objects of its chief atten- 
tion, becomes anxious about them. The appearance of failure, 
or even of partial want of success, is the signal for anxious cares 
to awake and vex the mind. And the more of these uncertain- 
ties there are, the more is the mind troubled. Such, to some 
extent, was Martha's case. She was careful about many things, 
and therefore she was troubled about many things. So it is in life. 
The more wealth, the more cares. The more sources of enjoy- 
ment, the more doors for sorrow to enter. Martha sought to 
have everything comfortable around her, and set her heart upon 
obtaining this ; but on the contrary, she found that her cares 
only added to her troubles. It can scarcely be otherwise.' The 
wise man has told us there be many things which increase vanity, 
Ecc. vi. 11, many things which trouble us, if we set our hearts 
upon them. Does a man delight in wealth ? Behold, his riches 
take to themselves wings and fly away. Does he delight in 
friends and relatives? One by one he sees them fall around 
him. Does he seek to get a name for himself among men? 
Behold, man being in honor abideth not. He is like the beasts 



MAKTHA AND MARY. 



211 



which, perish, for both must lie down alike in the dust. How 
unwise, then, is it to place the affections on those things which, 
at best, are unsatisfying, and which perish in the using. How- 
ever much we love them, our interest in them cannot endure, for 
in the midst of our cares they disappear, or else we ourselves 
depart. 

Ye that are careful and troubled about many things, hear the 
words of Christ to Martha, One thing is needful, and Mary hath 
chosen that good part which shall not he taken away from her. One 
thing is needful, all others are superfluities, but this you must 
have or perish forever. Look narrowly into all the walks of life 
— examine carefully whatever the world contains that is good or 
great — ascend into heaven — descend into the deeps — prove all 
things — but still you will find the words of Christ are true. But 
one thing is needful. So David found it, for he said, One thing have 
I desired, of the Lord, that will I seek after : that I may dwell in the 
house of the Lord all the days of my life, Ps. xxvii. 4. So Solomon 
found it, for he says, Fear God and keep his commandments, for this 
is the whole of man, Ecc. xii. 13. So Asaph found it, for he said, 
Whom have L in heaven but thee, and there is none upon the earth that 
I desire beside thee, Ps. lxxiii. 25. 

It was life eternal which Christ spoke of, as the one thing 
needful ; and surely one moment's candid consideration will 
prove the truth of his remark. What is your life that you now 
live, and for which you take so many cares ? Will it last forever ? 
Is it not even a vapor which passeth away ? A moment here, 
and the next, in eternity. And shall this temporary state of 
being, with its minute and transitory cares, and its fading enjoy- 
ments, outweigh the solemn and unending interests of an eternal 
existence ? Is that man wise who neglects the awful future that 
he may enjoy the present moment — nay, who not merely neglects 
the future, but vexes even the present with useless cares? 

Observe the manner in which he speaks of Mary's conduct. 
She hath chosen the good part. Whatever may be said of God's 
absolute sovereignty, nothing is more certain, than that eternal 
life and eternal death are set before every man for his choice, — 
and according to his choice will be his condition. When Moses 
had rehearsed the law to Israel, he solemnly called upon them to 
decide on the course they should take, / call heaven and earth to 
record against you this day, that Lhave set before you life and death, 
blessing and cursing : therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, Deut. 



212 



MARTHA AND MARY. 



xxx. 19. Tha.t same alternative, life or death, Messing or cursing, 
is set before each of us ; and none of you, my hearers, can avoid 
making some choice. If you do not choose life, you certainly do 
choose death. If you postpone the choice you in effect choose 
death, and who can tell how soon you shall receive your choice ? 

Mary had chosen the good part, emphatically good, and the 
only one that deserves that name. What shall it profit a man if 
he gain the whoh world, and lose his own sold? Matt. xvi. 26. 
The part that Mary had chosen was good, because it included all 
possible good. The Lord, and his salvation was the object of 
her choice. And may not all who make such a choice, say with 
the Psalmist, The Lord is my portion, I have a goodly heritage, Ps. 
xvi. 5, 6. What can he possibly want, who has the Lord for his 
friend? God is a satisfying portion to all those who put their 
trust in him. Even in this world it is found to be so. You may 
come to the streams of earthly enjoyment, and drink even to sa- 
tiety, and your thirst shall return again ; but it is not so with the 
enjoyment of God. The Christian is never cloyed with the favor 
of God. As Christ said to the woman of Samaria, Whosoever 
drinTceth of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of 
the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst, but the water that 1 
shall give him shall be in him, a well of ivater, springing up to ever- 
lasting life, John iv. 14. 

The world looks upon religion as a gloomy, unpleasant thing, 
but why should it be so esteemed ? Is the sense of pardoned 
sins and peace with God unpleasant ? Does it cause gloom and 
sadness to be assured that sin shall not have dominion over us, 
and we shall not fall into condemnation ? Is the knowledge of 
Christ, in whom are hid all the treasury of wisdom, and whose 
instructions shed light into the darkened soul, no source of de- 
light ? Is the matchless love of God, as displayed in the plan of 
redemption, through our Lord Jesus Christ, no fountain of joy? 
Alas ! it is ignorance alone that would start such an objection, 
for he who is truth itself, has declared the part which Mary chose, 
to be the only good part ; and its principal excellency consists in 
this, that it is permanent, and endless. It shall never be taken away 
from her. There are many that would gladly snatch it away. 
The roaring lion who goeth about seeking whom he may devour 
— the ensnaring world, in the net of whose allurements so many 
are entangled and destroyed — the deceitful heart, which causes so 
many more to perish — all these would snatch away the good part, 



MARTHA AND MARY. 



213 



which the child of God hath chosen. But they cannot do it, for 
it is preserved for him, by the same power which first placed it 
within his reach. The faithfulness of God is pledged to preserve 
all those that put their trust in him ; and however he may suffer 
their faith to be tried, or their enemies to gain temporary advan- 
tages over them, he will not forget his promises, nor suffer the 
portion they have chosen to be taken away. They have a treasure 
in the heavens that faileth not. Where no thief approacheth, neither 
moth corrupteth, Luke xii. 33. They have an inheritance incorrupt- 
ible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them, 
1 Pet. i. 4. And neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, can separate them 
from it, Kom. viii. 38. Such was the part which Mary had 
chosen. She sat at Jesus' feet and heard his words. "We know 
what those words were, for the great subject of all Christ's minis- 
try, was ever his mediatorial work. He spake of his life — he 
spake of his union with the Father — of his love for man — and of 
his purpose to die, on his behalf. He foretold his glorious res- 
urrection, and his ascension to heaven. He showed the nature 
of the kingdom he was about to establish ; that it was founded in 
the hearts of men, and demanded a spiritual service ; that it re- 
quired repentance for sin, and faith in himself ; that it promised 
grace and glory; and that no good thing should be withheld. 
Such were the ordinary topics of Christ's discourses. Such, 
doubtless, were his words to Mary, and they fell on her heart like 
seed on the good ground, that produced fruit an hundred-fold, 
springing up unto everlasting life. And there too, were the 
things that Martha neglected. She was cumbered about much 
serving; busied about trifles that gave her more pain than 
pleasure, while the Lord of life and truth was a guest in her 
house, and equally ready to impart to her, as to her sister, those 
glorious things which the Lord alone could reveal— -for eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the 
things he hath prepared for them that love him, 1 Cor. ii. 9. 

May God grant, that all of us, sitting like Mary at Jesus' feet, 
may have grace to choose that good part which shall never be 
taken away from us. 

Macao, April 28, 1844. 



SEKMON XXV. 



THE RICH MAN" AND LAZARUS. 

There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared 
sumptuously every day : and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which 
was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which 
fell from the rich man's table : moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And 
it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abra- 
ham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his 
eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus 
that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue : for I am tor- 
mented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime re- 
ceivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he is comforted, 
and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great, 
gulf fixed : so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot ; neither can 
they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee there- 
fore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house ; for I have five 
brethren ; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of 
torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets ; let them 
hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham ; but if one went unto them from 
the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and 
the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. — 
Luke xvi. 19-31. 

Never man spake like this man, was the exclamation with which 
some of the hearers of Jesus Christ once retired from his presence. 
It was an exclamation that must have been often uttered during 
his ministry, for never was there a preacher like him. ~No man 
like him had come down from heaven. No man like him knew 
what ivas in man. ~No man like him could withdraw the veil 
that covered the unseen world, and paint its realities before his 
hearers. He speaks, and lo ! the heavens are opened, and we 
behold the angels rejoicing over the conversion of the returning 
penitent. He speaks, and time and distance have fled away, and 
we behold all nations gathered before him to judgment. He 
speaks, and the veil that covers the hearts of men is removed, 



THE EICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 



215 



and we behold their secret thoughts, and the first emotions of the 
soul. It is on account of this vividness and distinctness, that the 
great masters of the art of painting, have so often selected the 
actions and the descriptions of Christ, as subjects for their pencils. 
The account in the words just read, is a striking example of the 
clearness with which our Saviour presented eternal things to his 
hearers. It is common to speak of it as the "parable of the rich 
man and Lazarus" — but why it should be called a parable, if by 
parable is meant a fictitious story, does not appear. It is not 
called a parable by the evangelist, nor have we any intimation, 
that it is not to be considered as an historical fact, describing the 
characters and conditions of persons who have actually existed. 
The Rationalists of Germany, who would divest religion entirely 
of its supernatural character, tell us that this account is not to be 
understood literally, — but the solid piety and sound sense of the 
Reformers, led them to consider it as the narration of events that 
actually occurred. This opinion I am inclined to regard as the 
correct one, although in either case, whether Ave regard it as a 
parable or an actual event, the instructions to be derived from 
the account are precisely the same. To these instructions, which 
are of personal interest and solemn importance to each one of us, 
I request your serious attention. 

The persons described in the narration are taken from the 
extremes of society. The one is a rich man, who has everything 
that heart can desire. He has health and wealth, sumptuous rai- 
ment and delicate food, and the fear of want never entered his 
mind. The other is a beggar, clothed with rags, and covered 
with sores ; far from having abundance of food, he desired only 
the crumbs of the rich man's table, and instead of kind attentions 
in his misery, the dogs came and licked his sores. Nothing bad 
is said concerning the rich man. It is no crime to be wealthy, 
nor is it wrong for the rich to enjoy the good things God has 
given them. That he was uncharitable, or refused the crumbs 
from his table, to Lazarus, does not appear from the words of 
Christ. All that we can justly infer, from what is said of him, is, 
that his heart was set upon the world; he took it for his portion, 
and was satisfied with its enjoyments, and neither thought nor 
cared for a future life. What a contrast was here ! The rich 
man and Lazarus were both men, both probably descendants of 
Abraham ; but while one rolled in wealth and pleasure, the other 
was exercised with poverty and pain. The one received good 



216 



THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 



things, and the other evil things. Were this the only life that 
men live, it might be hard to reconcile the impartiality and justice 
of God, with this unequal distribution of good and evil. Indeed 
those who are accustomed to look only on earthly things, do often 
take occasion from these outward distinctions, to arraign the 
justice of God, as though he were a respecter of persons. But let 
us look farther. This life is only introductory to another, and 
perhaps we may find that the apparent distinctions of this life, are 
all adj asted in that which is to come. 

It came to pass in process of time, that the beggar died. No 
mention is made of his burial. He was a common pauper, and 
probably his body was hurried to a pauper's grave, with none to 
lament over him, or raise a monument for him. But though 
neglected and forgotten by men, he was not so lightly esteemed 
by angels. Though homeless and sorrowing on earth, there was 
an inheritance prepared for him in heaven. The last breath had 
scarcely left his body, ere a convo}^ of angels were around him to 
convey his soul to Abraham's bosom. As Abraham is called the 
Father of the faithful, the expression carried to Abraham's bosom, 
may mean, that the beggar, who imitated his faith, was carried to 
heaven, like a child to the bosom of its father, when the day draws 
to a close. More probably, however, the reference is to the Jewish 
custom of feasting, where the guests reclined at the banquet, and 
the favored guest, lying next to him who occupied the highest 
place, reposed his head in his bosom. Thus Lazarus, despised 
and forgotten by men, was promoted to a seat with Abraham in 
heaven. How sudden and great the change in his condition! 
One moment looking on scenes of sin and suffering, the next his 
eyes opened on the glory and holiness of heaven ; one moment 
thankful for the crumbs of a rich man's table, and the next feast- 
ing at the banquet of the great King of kings; one moment 
despised and forsaken by men, with only the dogs to relieve his 
misery ; and the next associating with angels, and the spirits of 
the just made perfect, forever relieved of all suffering and sorrow, 
and remembering his former misery, only to enhance his present 

joy- 

The rich man also died, for wealth does not bribe death, nor 
the splendor of a palace keep him at a distance. They spend their 
days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to the grave, Job xxi. 
13. The rich man had been great on earth, and when he died he 
was buried, doubtless, with much parade. The mourners went 



THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 



217 



about the street, and lie was laid in state in his magnificent tomb. 
Those who passed by it, pointed to it, and spoke of the wealth 
and greatness he once possessed, though perhaps few of them 
asked what became of the soul, when the body was buried. It 
would have been presumptuous for us to have spoken of the state 
of his soul, had not Christ, before whom hell is opened, and de- 
struction and the pit have no covering, revealed it to us. In hell 
lie lifted up his eyes, being in torments. 

There are some in our days, whose sensibilities are so exqui- 
site, that they are shocked to hear of hell, and of the endless pun- 
ishment of the wicked. It is a favorite subject of complaint 
against faithful ministers of the gospel, that they dwell so much 
on the danger of the soul's perishing forever, and the miseries of 
the damned. Let all such consider the words of Christ, and the 
conduct of the apostles. It is the apostle Paul who says, Know- 
ing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men, 2 Cor. v. 11 ; and who 
speaks of the fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation 
which shall devour the adversaries, Heb. x. 27. It is James who 
says, Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that 
shall come upon you, James v. 1. It is Peter who speaks of those 
zuhose judgment lingereth not, and whose damnation slumbereth not, 
and who shall utterly perish in their own corruption, 2 Pet. ii. 3, 12. 
It is John, the beloved disciple, who tells us of the second death, 
and that whosoever was not found written in the booh of life, was cast 
into the lake of fire, Eev. xx. 15. But in all the New Testament, 
it is Jesus Christ who speaks most frequently, clearly, and fear- 
fully of hell, and judgment, and eternal death. When he de- 
clares that the wicked shall be cast into outer darkness, where there is 
wailing and gnashing of teeth — that the wicked shall go aiuay into 
everlasting punishment — that their worm dieth not, and the fire is not 
quenched — when he repeats it, their worm dieth not, and the fire is 
not quenched — and when, yet again he repeats it, their worm dieth 
not, and the fire is not quenched — who is there so bold as to ima- 
gine he means not what he says, or to censure his ministers who 
imitate his example, and with sorrowing hearts declare that the 
wages of sin is death t Matt. xxii. 13, xxv. 46, Mark ix. 44, 46, 
48, Rom. vi. 23. 

The rich man died and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his 
eyes, being in torments, and seeih Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in 
his bosom. It would seem from this, that though heaven and hell 
are far apart, yet the inhabitants of the one can occasionally be- 



218 



THE KICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 



hold those of the other, and even hold some intercourse with 
them. What the modes of communication are between spirits, 
or how the rich man and Abraham could converse when afar off, 
we know not. It is not to be supposed that the soul, when freed 
from the body, is as much confined, and incapable of expansion, 
as it now is. We shall have much to learn when freed from the 
clogs of the body, and much that now we never conceive of, shall 
become known to us. The rich man had never seen Abraham, 
yet he knew him at once. It he had seen Lazarus at all, it was 
only in rags and wretchedness, yet he recognized him in all his 
glory and happiness. What a change was there in the condition 
of the two, in so short a time ! The beggar who had lain at his 
gate, covered with sores, and begging for the crumbs from his 
table, was exalted to heaven, while the rich man, who had been 
clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every 
day, was thrust down to hell, and, in agony, crying to that very 
beggar for relief. Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send 
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my 
tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. The nature of the tor- 
ments of the damned, we do not very clearly understand. A 
spirit of course cannot feel material fire ; and though when the 
bodies of the lost are raised, and re-united to their souls, they 
will doubtless be capable of suffering, yet that is a low idea of the 
terrible justice of Grod, which supposes that the chief sufferings of 
the enemies of God are not spiritual. The common comparison 
in the Scriptures to represent those sufferings, is fire, which in- 
flicts upon us the acutest sufferings we can endure ; but it is fire 
prepared for the devil and his angels, and as they are purely spirit- 
ual beings, the fire that torments them must be chiefly that which 
a spirit can feel. But the remorse, the stings of conscience, and 
the gnawings of despair, joined to the insupportable sense of all 
the happiness they have lost, and the crushing sense of the wrath 
of (rod forever and ever — oh, these are far more dreadful than 
any mere bodily pains. These are the worm that dieth not, and 
the fire that is not quenched. You have heard of the remorse 
that Cranmer suffered, when he had been induced to deny his re- 
ligion. You have heard how, when he was led to the stake, he 
held out his right hand, and thrust it in the flames. The suffer- 
ings of that hand in perishing were not equal to the sufferings 
that his soul endured, for what that hand had done. How much 
more acute must be the sorrows of him who has lived in pleasure 



THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 219 

and wantonness, forgetting God, neglecting his salvation, trifling 
away his day of grace, and sinking at last to endless perdition. 
Such an one will need no addition of bodily torment, to fill up 
the measure of his cup of bitterness, — for the consciousness of 
what he is, joined to the remembrance of what he was, and the 
thought of what he might have been, will make it overflow. 

The petition of the rich man to Abraham, is the only example 
we have in the Scriptures of a prayer addressed to a saint in 
heaven, and its success was not such as to encourage us to renew 
the experiment. He prayed to one, who, though the father of 
the faithful, and honored in heaven, had no power to help him. 
The rich man had worded his petition to Abraham in such a way 
as to remind him that he was one of his descendants, Father 
Abraham, and the patriarch acknowledged the relation, calling 
him Son ; but alas, what did his descent from Abraham, and his 
circumcision avail him ? Did it not rather aggravate his misery, 
that he had once been in outward connection with the people of 
God, and was now joined with the heirs of wrath ? "Was it not 
an additional pang to reflect that he had once stood before the 
opened door of heaven, and by his own negligence had now 
fallen into the depths of hell ? Abraham replied to his prayer, 
but he gave him no encouragement to hope for the slightest re- 
lief from his sufferings. Son, remember thai thou in thy lifetime re- 
ceivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things : but now he 
is comforted, and thou art tormented. Remember ! Oh, could the 
spirits in prison but lose the gift of memory, how it would lighten 
the load they bear 1 But the memory becomes stronger after 
death, and they shall look back as the rich man did, and recall 
all the mercies they ever enjoyed. They shall remember how 
many offers of salvation were held out to them, all of which were 
neglected — how many means of grace were granted to them — 
how many prayers and sermons they heard — how many Sabbaths 
— checks of conscience, warnings, and reproofs — all shall come up 
to the mind, as it were only yesterday. They shall remember all 
the good things of this life that God gave them, and curse their 
folly in making these their portion, and neglecting the infinitely 
more precious good things of the life to come, which they might 
have had for the asking. Remember ! yes, they shall remember all, 
but it shall only be to heighten their misery, and deepen their 
despair. This world and heaven were set before them, for their 
choice, and they shall have none to reproach but themselves as 



220 



THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 



they remember that they chose this world, and despised eternal 
life. Abraham also informed the rich man, that now there was 
no possible hope for him. His day of grace was past. Besides 
all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they 
which would pass from hence to you cannot : neither can they pass to 
us, that would come from thence. Ponder these words carefully, for 
they contain subjects of infinite importance. Though heaven and 
hell are so situated, that the inhabitants of the one may occasion- 
ally behold those of the other, there is no intercourse, there is no 
transfer of residence from one to the other. Where the tree falleth 
there it must lie, Ec. xi. 13. There is a mighty chasm between the 
two — a great gulf and it is fixed, and no created power can span it. 
These words contain a distinct declaration of the doctrine, that 
the states of the righteous and the wicked in the world to come 
are fixed and unchangeable ; that whilst the happiness of the one 
is everlasting, the misery of the other is unending. It is in vain to 
cry out against this as a hard saying. It is the sentence of our 
Judge, registered in the eternal records, and shall not the Judge of 
all the earth do right? The rich man felt the truth of what 
Abraham said, and hope died away in his heart. He had no ex- 
pectation of obtaining any, even the least mitigation of his tor- 
ments, but he dreaded their increase. He had five brethren, and 
he feared lest they also should come to the same place of torment. 
If they came, he knew they would reproach him for not having 
set them a better example on the earth, and he feared that their 
presence would increase his own sufferings. Therefore he be- 
sought Abraham to send Lazarus, to testify to them, that being 
warned in time, they might avoid his dreadful end. Again was 
his request refused. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses 
and the prophets ; let them hear them. They have testimony and 
warning sufficient, why send them more ? But the rich man was 
not so put off. His own sense of eternal things since he had en- 
tered on them, was far more vivid than while he was on the earth. 
He too had Moses and the prophets, and he had neglected them ; 
but now when he knew, by his own experience, what it was 
whereof they spake, he had different views. Thus it always is. 
One hour's experience of eternity will teach more than all the 
preaching even of the apostle Paul. Therefore the man reiterated 
his request. Nay, father Abraham, but if one went to them from the 
dead, they will repent. Let Lazarus go to them. Let him with 
the tongue of an immortal, tell them the blessedness he enjoys, 



THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS. 



221 



and the misery I endure, and surely they will repent. Their 
hearts shall be moved with fear, and they will flee from the 
wrath to come. How common is this feeling ! How often do 
men think — nay, how often do they say ; " If we had only seen 
Christ. If we had witnessed his miracles. If we had seen the 
dead raised — if a dead man were to come now and converse with 
us, surely we should believe and be saved." There be many 
whose consciences are somewhat awakened, and who hesitate to 
believe and obey the gospel, because they wish for more evidence 
than they now possess, and think, that they too must see signs 
and wonders ere they can believe. Hear the words with which 
Abraham replied to the rich man's reiterated plea. If they hear 
not Hoses and the prophets, neither ivill they he persuaded though one 
rose from the dead. As if he had said, They have ample evi- 
dence. The Scriptures in their hands are abundantly sufficient. 
The motives there presented are strong enough. The sight of 
one who rose from the dead, though it might alarm them, would 
not persuade them. And is it not so ? What greater witness 
could they have than they already possessed ? They had Moses 
and the prophets, and we have Moses and the prophets, and the 
apostles, and the words of Christ himself. These we profess to 
believe. Why then seek additional testimony and additional rev- 
elations ? Would you receive the testimony of a man who rose 
from the dead ? But the -witness of God is greater, 1 John v. 9. 
Has not experience shown that even the rising from the dead is 
not sufficient to persuade men ? Did not the Jews in the time 
of Christ say, If toe had been in the days of our fathers, we would not 
have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets, Matt, xxiii. 
30. Yet when that great prophet came, of whom Moses spake, 
did they not go about to kill him ? He raised Lazarus from the 
dead, and they saw him, and conversed with him. Were they 
persuaded by what he told them ? ISTay, did they not consult to 
put Lazarus also to death, even after he had risen from the dead, 
John xii. 10. And did they not crown all their wickedness by 
crucifying the Lord of glory, even after all his wonderful works, 
which they had seen ? 

We have looked into the eternal world. The doors have 
been opened to us by him who holds the keys of death and of 
hell, Eev. i. 18. Whether the narrative we have been con- 
sidering be a mere parable, or an actual history, it matters 
not, the truths taught are precisely the same. We have seen 



222 



THE RICH MAN" AND LAZARUS. 



the glory that awaits the child of God in heaven, even though 
his life on earth may have been fall of sorrow. We have seen 
the torments of him, who in his ease and luxury forgot God. We 
have seen the hopeless despair with which he heard the words 
of the patriarch, to whom he vainly applied for relief. His day 
of grace was passed. He had lived in pleasure on the earth, 
he had grasped the good things that were within his reach, and 
God gave him his Heart's desire, but sent a curse into his soul. 

I have but one remark to make in conclusion. Christ has set 
before us the final lot of these two men, that we may see which to 
choose and which to shun. Most certain it is, that we shall either 
recline with Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, or lie with the rich 
man in hell. The Bible speaks of no middle place. Would you 
choose the former, and shun the latter ? You have Moses, and the 
apostles, to show you how it may be done, and there is no other, and 
shall be no other instruction. ~No man shall come from the dead — 
no angel shall descend from heaven — no miracle shall be wrought 
— no " signs" shall be seen. It is by the foolishness of preaching, 
and the reading of the word of God, that men shall be saved, and 
if these are not sufficient then there is no hope, and we must lie 
down in sorrow. But blessed be God, this is amply sufficient. 
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doc- 
trine, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness ; that 
the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good 
works, 2 Tim. iii. 16-17. 

Macao, May 5, 1844. 



SEEMON XXVI. 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 

Then coraeth Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But 
John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to 
me ? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now ; for thus it be- 
comethus to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus when he 
was baptized, went up straightway out of the water ; and lo, the heavens were 
opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and light- 
ing upon him ; and lo, a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in 
whom I am well pleased. — Matt. iii. 13-17. 

There were many wonderful events in the history of the Jew- 
ish nation, and among these were some that stirred up all the 
feelings of the whole people, and were handed down from father 
to son as things worthy of everlasting remembrance. But proba- 
bly nothing in their whole history excited so deep a sensation as 
the ministry and preaching of John the Baptist. He came at the 
most eventful crisis in their history. They understood by books 
that the time for the advent of their Messiah was drawing near. 
They had seen the sceptre gradually departing from Judah — 
where then was the promised Shiloh ? Gen. xlix. 10. The seventy 
weeks of Daniel were drawing to a close — where was Messiah the 
Prince? Dan. ix. 27. Day after day, old Simeon went up to the 
temple, waiting for the consolation of Israel, for it had been revealed 
to him by the Holy Ghost that he should not see death before he had seen 
the Lord's anointed, Luke ii. 27. Night and day did Anna speak 
of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem, Luke ii. 
38. The miraculous birth of John was well known. Who had 
not heard of the vision of his father Zacharias in the temple, of 
his sudden dumbness, of the conception of Elizabeth, when she 
was past the age of child-bearing ; and of the loosing of his fa- 
ther's tongue when he had written, his name is John? Luke i. 
1-63. All these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill 
country ofJudea, Luke i. 65. 



224 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



John grew up, and though it was in the desert, yet his frugal 
fare, and the sanctity of his life, recalling the remembrance of his 
great prototype, who called down fire from God, and went up to 
heaven in a whirlwind, made him the object of great attention. 
He came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and his words ran' 
through the nation like an electric shock. Then went out to him 
Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, 
Matt. iii. 5. 

It was not strange that such an excitement should attend his 
preaching. The minds of the people were strung to the highest 
pitch of expectation, and he was a man prepared of God, express- 
ly for the occasion. So important was his mission in the eyes of 
God, that a special prophecy foretold his coming. Behold the voice 
of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, maize 
Ins paths straight, Is. xl. 3. The eye of Jesus Christ had seen the 
mighty men of every age and every land. He knew the charac- 
ters of Abraham, and Moses, and David, and Solomon, as well 
as of Alexander, and Csesar, but he passed them all by, and 
threw them in the shade, with his emphatic Verily I say unto you, 
among them that are bom of women, there hath not risen a greater 
than John the Baptist, Matt. xi. 11. 

He was the forerunner of Christ, and came to prepare his way, 
as all who preach Christ must do, by preaching repentance for 
sin. His voice was heard, and as one man the nation rose up to 
meet him. The self-righteous Pharisee, the skeptical Sadducee, 
the abandoned Publican, and the mercenary soldier, went out, 
and were baptized of him in Jordan. So great was the impres- 
sion his appearance and discourse produced, that men mused in 
their hearts, whether he were not the Christ, Luke iii. 15 ; and even 
the priests and the Levites were sent from Jerusalem to ask who 
he was, John i. 19. But he was not the Christ. His mission 
was only introductory. It made nothing perfect. It pointed to 
Christ. John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying 
unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come 
after him, that is, on Christ Jesus, Acts xix. 4. And in propor- 
tion as Christ became the object of greater attention, was John less 
followed, but this was no grief to him. When his disciples came 
to him saying, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom 
thou barest witness, behold the same baptizeth and all men come to him, 
his answer was, My joy therefore is fulfilled, he must increase, but 1 
must decrease, John iii. 26. 30. 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



225 



After John had preached some six months, or more, the pub- 
lic ministry of Christ commenced, and he began it with an open 
acknowledgment of the work and mission of his forerunner. 
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized 
of him. Our Lord was now about thirty years of age, which was 
the time appointed by the Levitical law when the priests and pub- 
lic instructors should commence their service. He had lived in 
Galilee in obscurity, and notwithstanding the star which pro- 
claimed his birth, and his appearing in the temple at the age of 
twelve years, the people seem to have had little suspicion of the 
greatness of him who tabernacled among them. But now the 
way was prepared, and when all the people were baptized, Luke 
iii. 21, and by their baptism had solemnly professed their readi- 
ness to receive him whom John preceded, he came to be publicly 
acknowledged by John, and to enter on his work. 

Although, according to the human nature of Christ, he was a 
relation of John the Baptist, yet the latter appears not to have 
been personally acquainted with him. He was, however, revealed 
to him by the Holy Ghost, John i. 31, 33, and when Christ came 
and asked to be baptized, his great forerunner at first declined. 
Greatest of all the sons of men, he felt himself so far inferior to 
our Lord, that he was not worthy even to bear his shoes, as a 
servant after him. How, then, could he presume to confer on 
him the rite of baptism ? John forbade him, saying, I have need to 
be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me f This is a remarkable 
saying, and coming, as it does, from a man inspired of God, is 
worthy of careful consideration. John the Baptist was sanctified 
even from his mother's womb, and in the sanctity of his life sur- 
passed even the holiest of the ancient saints. Yet he felt that he 
had need of Christ. Who, then, of all them that are born of 
woman, has no need of Christ ? Who, then, of sinful men must 
not look to him for salvation ? or what name can there be under 
heaven wherein we can trust, other than that of Jesus of Naza- 
reth ? If the holy Baptist felt and expressed his need of Christ, 
let us also acknowledge the same want, and flee to him for 
shelter. 

The objection made by John to baptizing Christ, was most 
natural, but it was overruled by our Saviour. Suffer it to be so 
now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness ; then he suffered 
him. It is not at first sight very clear why Christ wished to be 
baptized by John, or how he thereby fulfilled all righteousness. 



226 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



The baptism of John was the baptism of repentance for sin, and 
those who received it professed their faith in the coming Messiah ; 
but Christ had no sins to repent of, and he was himself the prom- 
ised Messiah. He could not, therefore, receive baptism in the 
ordinary sense in which the Jews received it. But the object of 
our Lord, in being baptized by John, was twofold. He wished, 
in the first place, to put honor on the ministry of his forerunner, 
by acknowledging thus publicly his divine mission. On various 
occasions he testified to the greatness of John, but never so 
emphatically as when he bowed before him in the sacred ordi- 
nance of baptism. He wished to receive this rite from the hands of 
John, in the second place, because it was his solemn inauguration 
into his own public ministry. It was, so to speak, the oath of 
office by which he publicly pledged himself to the performance 
of the duties which, as Mediator, he had undertaken. It was 
becoming, therefore, that John should administer the ordinance to 
him. When one of the monarchs of the earth assumes the crown 
and ascends the throne, the highest of his future subjects admin- 
isters the coronation oath. So when Christ assumed his media- 
torial work on earth, he, than whom no greater had ever been 
born of woman, inducted him into his office. It was, indeed, 
chiefly for this purpose that he was raised up, and, having accom- 
plished this, the star of his brightness speedily set. The sun was 
now risen in the east, and the morning star, which heralded his 
approach, disappeared. 

Our Lord was baptized, and went up straightway from the 
water. It was then that there was made one of the most remark- 
able manifestations of the Godhead, of which our world has ever 
been the witness. Lo ! the heavens were opened unto him, and he 
saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 
and lo ! a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in 
whom I am well pleased. Let us for a moment consider the scene 
presented. It ivas in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was 
baptizing, John i. 28. It was not a thickly-settled country, but 
crowds now occupied it, attracted thither by the fame of the 
great messenger of Cod. Already he had given his testimony 
concerning Christ, who was so soon to come. And now the peo- 
ple were in expectation, Luke iii. 15. John seeth Jesus coming 
unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the 
sin of the icorld, John i. 29. He baptizes him in presence of all 
the people, and whilst they behold, the heavens are opened, and 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



227 



they look far up into those blue depths hard by the throne of 
God. Even while they gaze, a bodily form, like a dove, Luke iii. 
22, descends, approaches the newly-baptized Saviour, and lights 
upon him. And whilst they look on this, behold another won- 
der. A voice from heaven rings out, clear and distinct as the 
trumpet that once sounded on Sinai, but without its tones of ter- 
ror, and proclaims, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well 
phased. 

The two circumstances most remarkable in this account, are, 
the descent of the Spirit, and the testimony of God in behalf of 
Christ. That there was a bodily appearance, as of a dove, is dis- 
tinctly stated. This is an important fact to be borne in mind, 
but our chief concern is with the import of the action. 

The dispensation under which we live is often and justly 
called the dispensation of the Spirit. The ancient Jewish law, 
with its varied rites and ceremonies, was very imposing, but it 
had only a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of 
those things, Heb. x. 1 ; and those who ministered at its altar 
served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. But now 
Christ is come, having obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch 
as he is the mediator of a better covenant, which is established upon 
better promises, Heb. viii. 6. That better covenant, and those bet- 
ter promises, are due to the gift of the Holy Spirit, which all 
those receive who believe on Christ. Without the gift of the 
Spirit there is no spiritual life — there would be no spiritual 
church, nor could any of our race ever enter heaven. This gift 
of the Spirit was purchased by Jesus Christ when he died upon 
the cross ; it was first copiously given when cloven tongues ap- 
peared and sat upon the head of the apostles on the day of Pente- 
cost ; and it has been communicated to the church more or less 
freely down to the present time, and shall be continued in her 
until the final consummation of all things. So needful is this 
gift of the Spirit to the welfare of the church, that Christ did not 
scruple to tell his sorrowing disciples, that it was more necessary 
than his own bodily presence. It is expedient for you that I go 
away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but 
if I depart I will send him unto you, John xvi. 7. 

Christ then being the giver of this great gift, it behooved him 
to be plenteously endowed with the same himself. Accordingly, 
we find a long line of prophecies, distinctly marking out Christ's 
pre-eminence in this respect, and equally distinct testimonies 



228 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



from the New Testament, showing that the Father gave not the 
Spirit by measure to him, John iii. 34. It was of him Isaiah 
spake, when he said, The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Mm ) the 
Spirit of wisdom, and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, 
the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord, Is. xi. 2. There 
is another prophecy of Isaiah (lxi. 1) still more distinct, which 
cannot be better quoted, than in the words of the evangelist 
Luke. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. 
And he came to Nazareth lohere he had been brought up ; and, as his 
custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath dag, and stood 
up for to read. And them was delivered unto him the book of the 
prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the 
place ivhere it is written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because 
he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to 
heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recov- 
ering of sight to them that are blind, to set at liberty them that are 
bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the 
book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes 
of all them that ivere in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he 
began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fidfilled in your 
ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious ivords 
which proceeded out of his mouth, Luke iv. 14—22. 

Since Christ is thus the mediator of a covenant whose grand 
characteristic is, that it is spiritual, it was peculiarly appropriate, 
that on his entering on his public work, this should be plainly 
signified. Hence, when he was baptized, the Spirit descended, in 
bodily form like a dove, and in the eyes of all, lighted upon him ; 
nor was he ever after without the Spirit's presence. The Father 
gave not the Spirit by measure unto him. He himself bestowed 
the gift of the Spirit with, a boundless liberality. "When he rose 
from the dead, he came to his disciples, and, breathing on them, 
said, Receive the Holy Ghost, John xx. 22. And how full and rich 
were the gifts they received when the Spirit was poured upon 
them from on high on the day of Pentecost. To one was given by 
the Spirit the word of wisdom : to another the tuord of knowledge by 
the same Spirit: to another faith by the same Spirit: to another the 
gifts of healing by the same Spirit : to another the working of miracles ; 
to another prophecy ; . to another the discerning of spirits ; to another 
divers kinds of tongues ; to another the interpretation of tongues ; but 
all these ivorkelh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every 
man severally as he ivill, 1 Cor. xii.8-11. How long these mirac- 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



229 



ulous gifts continued in the primitive church is uncertain. They 
were bright and dazzling manifestations. But there were other 
gifts of the same Spirit, even more precious, which are still given 
to the church ; and which even now are her glory and her crown 
— for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, 
goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, Gal. v. 22, 23. No 
tongue can express the excellency of these gifts. "Where then 
shall we seek their origin ? Yet why ask the question ? They 
can come only from him on whom the Spirit lighted at his bap- 
tism ; and who by his death purchased the right to bestow the 
Spirit's influences when and how he would. 

It is too common in our days to think lightly of the work of 
the Spirit in the church. There are many who say, that all this 
talk of supernatural impressions, and influences of the Spirit in 
religion, is mere enthusiasm. I have not so learned the Scrip- 
tures. On the contrary, the words of Christ are as emphatic and 
as true now, as when they were first spoken to Nicodemus, Ver- 
ily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be horn of ivater and of the 
Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, John iii. 5 ; and the 
words of Paul are as applicable to the Christian church now, as 
they were when first spoken to the Corinthians. We have received 
not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit ivhich is of God, 1 Cor. ii. 
12 ; and that other declaration of the same apostle's, is as full of 
solemn meaning as ever, If any man have not the spirit of Christ, 
he is none of his, Eom. viii. 9. 

The field of thought, on which we are led to enter, by the con- 
sideration of the descent of the Spirit on Christ, when he was 
baptized, is one of boundless interest, and importance, but at 
present it must be passed over without further remark. 

The baptism of Christ was signalized, not only by the descent 
of the Holy Spirit, but by one of those remarkable testimonies 
from God the Father, which Christ received several times during 
his public ministry. Lo ! a voice from heaven, saying, This is my 
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This same testimony was 
given to our Lord, on the occasion of his transfiguration, when 
none but Peter and James and John were present to hear it, 
Matt. xvii. 5. A similar testimony was also given him near the 
close of his public ministry, when he prayed, Father, glorify thy 
name. Then there came a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glo- 
rified it, and 1 will glorify it again, John xii. 28. 



230 



BAPTISM OF CHKIST. 



The account contained in the verses we have been considering 
furnishes several practical and doctrinal truths. 

1. We have here a distinct recognition of the sublime arid 
mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. There is a voice from 
heaven — there is the Spirit descending — there is the Saviour on 
the earth — and each of these are represented as distinct persons. 
"We do not adduce this passage as a proof of the essential divinity 
either of the Holy Ghost, or of the Son ; that is proved elsewhere. 
It is sufficient to quote this account, to show, that while these 
three persons are intimately joined together, they have a distinct 
personality, that the Spirit is not a mere influence, nor the Son 
a different name for the Father. The objection will doubtless be 
urged, that this is an incomprehensible doctrine. But it will be 
time to answer such an objection, when he who brings it can 
explain the mysteries of his own nature, or the union between 
his own soul and body. 

2. While the account in question reveals to us something con- 
cerning the nature of the Trinity, it is yet more interesting as show- 
ing us the union and harmony of the Godhead in all that relates to 
the redemption of our race. The counsels of the glorious Trinity 
from eternity, had reference to the salvation of man ; and in the 
plan of redemption, it is the Father who sends the Son — it is the 
Son who dies to redeem — and it is the Holy Ghost who applies 
the purchased salvation. In all this, there was and is the most 
perfect harmony between the persons of the Godhead. The same 
infinite intelligence directed all, and the great work went on to 
its completion through the united power, wisdom, and love of 
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Divine revelation 
assures us that between the persons of the Trinity the most per- 
fect harmony and love has ever existed, John i. 1, 2, 18. Prov. 
viii. 14-36. Col. i. 12, 13. John xvii. and it is not a little inter- 
esting to find that every such revelation that is given to us, is 
given in connection with the divine purposes regarding our salva- 
tion. Does the Father declare his love for the Son? it is when 
the Son is fulfilling the work he had undertaken for our race. 
Does the Son profess his affection for the Father, and delight in 
him? it is when he is most actively employed in securing our sal- 
vation. Are clear revelations given to us of the nature and office 
of the Holy Spirit ? it is when he is spoken of as the Comforter, 
and Sanctifier of those whom the Father loved and the Son 
redeemed. And all this leads us to an important practical reflec- 



BAPTISM OF CHRIST. 



231 



tion. Is the ever glorious and blessed Trinity — the Father, the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost, thus earnestly and affectionately en- 
gaged in working out the redemption of our race? then surely it 
is no light or unimportant matter, in which the Triune God is 
thus engaged. We may think it a light matter to work out our 
salvation, but it was not so esteemed in the counsels of eternity. 
Surely that which calls forth the thoughts, and the energies of all 
the persons of the Godhead, must be an occasion of chief magni- 
tude, and should be so regarded by us. Let us then say with the 
Psalmist, The redemption of the soul is precious, Ps. xlix. 8 ; and let 
us obey the exhortation of the apostle, Work out your salvation 
with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will 
and to do of his good pleasure, Phil. ii. 12, 13. 

Finally, let us hence draw consolation and encouragement. 
Is one glorious Trinity thus engaged in the work of redemption ? 
then surely it cannot fail. The gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it. The power of Satan shall not bring to naught what 
God has decreed. Let us therefore trust in God with unshrinking 
confidence, and commit the keeping of our souls to him in well-doing 
as unto a faithful Creator] 1 Pet. iv. 19. His counsel shall stand, he 
will do all his pleasure, Is. xlvi. 16. We may therefore trust, and 
not be afraid. 

Macao, June 16, 1844 



SERMON XXVII. 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in 
uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy : 
that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate ; lay- 
ing up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that 
they may lay hold on eternal life. — 1 Tim. vi. 11-19. 

The author of the epistle from which these words are taken, 
was the apostle Paul. After our Lord Jesus Christ, he was the 
greatest inspired teacher of the Christian Church, and his words 
come to us clothed with divine authority. The person to whom 
the epistle was addressed, was Timothy, the chosen friend, and 
bosom companion of the apostle. He was also a minister of the 
everlasting gospel, and had the charge of souls, for which charge 
he was to render an account, not to man, but to God. For his 
guidance, this epistle was written, and it is filled with directions 
as to the manner in which he might best perform the duties de- 
volving upon him. Nothing can exceed the solemnity of the 
charges laid upon him by the apostle. But the epistle was not 
written for Timothy alone ; it was intended for all who, like him, 
are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation ; and its charges 
are as binding on all such now, as when first given to Timothy 
himself. Bear with me therefore, when in obedience to the com- 
mand of the apostle, I explain his words, and charge you who are 
rich, not to be high-minded, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but 
in the living God. 

The charge here given is specially for the rich. Charge them 
that are rich in this world. Yet it is difficult to say who are in- 
cluded in it. It is hard to say what amount of this world's goods 
constitutes wealth. Who can tell what riches are ? Who is ever 
satisfied with what he already possesses? One man esteems 
riches to consist in the possession of ten or a hundred pounds ; 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



233 



while another calls himself poor with thousands and tens of thou- 
sands. But perhaps we shall not greatly err, if we say that by 
the rich, the apostle means all those who possess more than a com- 
petency of the good things of this world. If you possess more 
than is absolutely necessary for the comforts and conveniences of 
life — if you are placed above the reach of want, and have a reason- 
able prospect of so continuing — then you may consider yourselves 
as included in the class intended by the apostle. If this be 
allowed, then the greater part if not the whole of this audience 
are here addressed. Look over the world in which we dwell. 
Compare your condition with that of three fourths of our race, 
and it will be found that the great majority of men will say of us, 
that we are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of 
nothing. 

There is a deep and solemn meaning in the expression used 
by the apostle, when he says, rich in this world, for it implies that 
they who possess much of this world's wealth, may be poor in 
the only true riches. It teaches us, that though men heap up sil- 
ver as stones, and gold as the dust of the streets — though they 
add house to house, and field to field — yet, when they die, they 
may be left without a rag to cover their nakedness, and their souls 
may appear before God without anything wherewith to redeem them 
from shame, and poverty, and everlasting contempt. It reminds 
us of the rich man, who said, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up 
for many years. Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry ; and 
yet God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required 
of thee : then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided f 
Above all, it reminds us of that solemn query propounded by 
our Saviour, What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, 
and lose his own soul f Mark viii. 36 ; for alasj it too often hap- 
pens, that they who are rich in this world, are not rich towards 
God. How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom 
of God. For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than 
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, Luke xviii. 24, 25. 
Therefore, I charge all such, in the name of the most high God, 
with all plainness and sincerity, that you attend to the exhorta- 
tion of the apostle. 

The charge of the apostle consists of two parts. He first tells 
you what you must avoid ; and then instructs you what you 
must do. 

L There are two things which you must avoid. 



234 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



1. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high- 
minded. Eiclies are apt to puff the owner up. Great respect is paid 
by all classes to the rich. In most cases it is wealth that makes the 
man, for gold is the aristocracy of the world. Crowds follow him 
that possesses it ; he has many dependants ; he is looked up to ; he 
is quoted as an oracle ; he is served with eagerness ; and in propor- 
tion to his wealth he finds his greatness to increase. Now in all 
cases poor human nature is prone to pride and self-conceit. How 
much more easy is it for one to be high-minded, when all around 
conspire to make him so ; and how natural is it for one perched 
upon his shining pinnacle, to look with contempt upon those who 
walk humbly in the plain, or grovel in the dust beneath him ! 
But beware of such conduct. Let no proud, vain-glorious 
thoughts fill your hearts. Do not despise those less wealthy, or 
less exalted than yourselves. Be not high-minded, but condescend to 
men of low estate, Eom. xii. 16. There are two considerations, 
which are of excellent use to beat down the pride that wealth is 
so apt to engender. 1. Consider that God abhors the proud. 
No sin, save the sin of unbelief, is so hateful in the eyes of a pure 
and holy God, as the sin of pride. The first of the seven sins 
which God abhors — and which is an abomination to him — is a 
proud look, Pro v. vi. 17. How must it provoke the Most High, 
before whom all our ranks and titles of honor are but so many 
" degrees of littleness," to see his own gifts made, or rather per- 
verted, into an occasion, whereby an insignificant creature may 
for a few years plume himself, and become vain in his fancied 
greatness ! 2. Consider, that even if it were lawful for man to be 
high-minded, yet the possession of wealth, the being rich in this 
world, is no sufficient reason for pride. What is wealth but a perish- 
ingtreasure — often unjustly acquired — often improperly employed, 
and even when lawfully acquired and rightly used, a fading and 
transitory source of influence and enjoyment ? Do not all go to one 
place at the last? Shall not all stand before God, and be judged, 
not according to their silver and their gold, but according to the 
deeds they have done? And shall any man, on account of a 
possession that he cannot take with him out of this world, say to 
his poorer neighbor, " Stand by thyself, come not nigh unto me. 
Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool, for I am better 
than thou ?" I charge you, that ye be not high-minded. 

2. The apostle also warns you against trusting in uncertain 
riches. This is a common and lamentable error. How apt are men 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



235 



to make gold their trust, and to feel their hopes of happiness in- 
crease in proportion to the increase of their wealth. It is hard to 
trust in God alone, but easy to trust in riches. Such is the 
blindness of the natural heart, that we utterly lose sight of the 
Giver of every good thing, and put our confidence in his gifts. 
No sin is more common, even in nominally Christian lands. We 
are not surprised to find that every Chinese merchant has an 
image of the god of riches in his house, to which he pays his 
daily devotions ; but it should surprise us, to find how often the 
throne of the 'same idol is set up in the Christian's heart. You 
may not burn incense before him, nor bend your body in adora- 
tion, but there be many in Christian communities that serve him 
with as true a devotion, and as hearty a worship, as the veriest 
Pagan that ever lived. Is this an uncharitable supposition? 
What means, then, this craving after riches — this pleasure in see- 
ing wealth increase — this constant application of every power of 
body and mind to the one object of making money — this giving 
up of the whole heart to the allurements of the world, and of 
the money that purchases the world, which we see on every 
side ? For this purpose is country forsaken, and friends deserted, 
and dangers and perils endured. For this purpose are too many 
of the rights of the weak neglected, or trampled on. For this 
purpose is God forgotten, and the Sabbath dishonored. What 
greater sacrifices do the heathen make to their idols, than many 
nominal Christians are constantly making in pursuit of wealth ? 

And yet, when wealth is obtained, what great benefit do you 
thence derive ? Are you sure that you shall continue to possess 
it ? Do not dangers crowd thick on every hand, threatening to 
deprive you of all you have acquired, with so much toil ? Some- 
times you have adventured your all in a single ship, and you 
know not but the winds may destroy, the waves engulf, the fire 
consume, or the pirates seize it. You become security for a 
friend, and he fails, and involves you in his ruin. You embark 
your capital in a scheme that requires all your time and strength, 
and when you have gone too far to withdraw, your health fails, 
and your hopes vanish. But why enumerate all the casualties 
that may interfere with your success? Wilt thou set thine eyes 
upon that which is not 1 for riches certainly make themselves wings, 
and fly away, as an eagle towards heaven, Prov. xxiii. 5. Well did 
the apostle say, Trust not in uncertain riches, or as it is more accu- 
rately and expressively translated in the margin, Trust not in the 



236 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



uncertainty of riches. Nothing is so proverbially uncertain as the 
possession of wealth. A thousand chances may deprive you of it 
all, even during life ; and certainly at death you shall lose it, for 
we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry 
nothing out. Therefore, use the wealth you now possess, and 
enjoy the good things God has given you, but do not make them 
your trust. If riches increase, set not your heart upon them, for 
they will certainly disappoint your expectations. Behold, I show 
you a more excellent way, 1 Cor. xii. 31. 

II. The apostle forbids your trusting to riches, but he does not 
therefore remove from you every object on which you may rely. 
Man must have something to depend upon. There are those who 
love to talk of the independence of man, and to boast of his 
greatness and authority. To a thinking mind, all such boasting 
is folly. In all the wide world, there is not a more dependent 
and helpless being than man. Although lord of this lower crea- 
tion, the ivy is not more dependent on the oak, than man is 
dependent on those around him. In infancy his every want 
must be supplied by others ; and as he grows up, he is still the 
same dependent being, and will lean on something, though it be 
but a bruised reed, for support. Some trust in horses, some trust 
in chariots, some trust in friends, but most men trust in wealth. 
The apostle utterly forbids our reposing our hopes on this, and 
shows us a better ground of confidence. Trust not in the uncer- 
tainty of riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things 
to enjoy. Make him your stay, and ground of hope. Put your 
confidence in him, and in all times of danger or want flee to him 
for shelter. Labor to possess your minds with a sense of his 
greatness, power, and present care for you. Obtain practical 
views of his providence, that overrules, and controls, and directs 
all things. Believe that nothing can happen to you, or others, 
without his special permission. Commit your interests and pros- 
pects into his hands, assured that he is both able and willing to 
care for you. Let no anxious or distressing cares, and schemes 
for the future, occupy your minds. I say unto you, take no thought 
for your life, what ye shall eat and ivhat ye shall drink ; nor yet for 
your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and 
the body more than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air, for they 
sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns ; yet your heaven- 
ly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they f Which 
of you by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature ? And why 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



237 



take ye thought for raiment t Consider the lilies of the field how they 
grow : they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that 
even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. 
Wherefore, if God so clothes the grass of the fields, which to-day is, 
and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 
oh ye of little faith f But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his 
righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you, Matt. vi. 
25-33. Trust therefore in the living God, and you will find him 
a ground of confidence ; not like the uncertain quicksands of this 
world's treasures, but stable and sure, as the everlasting rocks, 
and by such confidence you will be liberally rewarded. If you 
trust in riches, what do you obtain ? Constant cares and anxieties, 
toils and unending labors, and fruit that cloys while you use 
it. But to those who trust in God, he giveth richly all things to 
enjoy. All things come of him. Even the rich have their 
wealth by the dispensations of his providence, but without his 
blessing there is no solid enjoyment. Trust not therefore in the 
gifts, but in the giver. 

Trust in the living God. This is the first and the most indis- 
pensable requisite in all acceptable service. Without faith it is 
impossible to please him, for he that cometh unto God, must believe that 
he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 
xi. 6. But it is not faith alone that is required; and if it be 
true faith, it will not be alone. Faith without works is dead, it is 
not faith. Wherever faith truly exists, it shows itself by its fruits. 
It works by love and purifies the heart. Accordingly, in our text, 
the apostle, after charging the rich not to trust in riches, but in 
God, proceeds to enjoin on them the performance of such good 
works as may evidence the sincerity and depth of their trust. 
Do good, be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to commu- 
nicate. The apostle's meaning is this. All those who possess 
this world's riches, are merely the stewards of God. All that you 
possess comes from him. It is not given to you in perpetuity, 
but is lent to you to be employed in his service. You are allow- 
ed to enjoy it yourselves, but at the same time remember, that 
when he cometh he will require his own with interest, Luke xix. 
23. Freely therefore, as you have received, so freely give. There 
are abundance of objects to call for your charity. There are many 
bodily wants of the poor to be supplied ; for the word spoken in 
ancient times to the Jews, is true in our days, the poor shall never 
cease out of the land, Deut. xv. 11, and all such have a claim on 



238 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



your benevolence. There are too many who say, in the words 
of him who slew his brother, " Am I my brother's keeper ? 
What have I to do with the wants of the poor ?" But such a plea 
will not avail before God. To a certain extent you are your 
brother's keeper. We are all members of God's great family, and 
though to some he has given more than others, his intention is 
not that the latter should suffer want, but that the former should 
supply their wants. I know not how this can be more clearly 
expressed than it is by the apostle — I mean not that other men he 
eased, and ye he burdened ; hut hy an equality, that your abundance 
may be a supply for their wants, that their abundance also may be 
a supply for your wants, that there may be an equality: as it is written, 
He that had gathered much had nothing over ; and he that had gathered 
little had no lack, 2 Cor. viii. 13-15. And to encourage you, in a 
liberal distribution to the wants of the poor, remember the words 
of unfailing truth, He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the 
Lord: and that which he hath given will he pay him again, Prov. xix. 
17. And also that promise, The liberal soul shall he made fat; and 
he that ivatereth shall be ivatered himself, Prov. xi. 25. 

But it is not the bodily wants alone of our neighbors that 
should be relieved by us. There are multitudes on all sides who 
are not only poor in this world, but poor as it respects the next. 
How truly may it be said of every heathen country, that there is 
a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but 
of hearing the word of the Lord, Amos viii. 11. I speak specially 
of the inhabitants of this great empire, and I ask you what is the 
prospect of their salvation? In the words of the great apostle of 
the Gentiles, Whosoever believeth shall not be ashamed. How shall 
they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they 
believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear 
without a preacher 1 ? and how shall they preach except they be sent? 
Eom. xi. 14. There is much misapprehension on this point, and 
some diversity of views even among divines as to the future con- 
dition of the heathen who have never heard of Christ; for some 
maintain that those who have never heard of Christ, may be 
saved, provided they live perfectly moral lives. There can be 
no hesitation in admitting the truth of this proposition. If the 
heathen, or any of them, live perfectly moral lives, and fully 
obey the light of nature, they shall be saved, even without the 
knowledge of Christ. But are there any such ? On this point I 
feel constrained to say there are none such in the world. From 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



239 



the day when Adam sinned, down to the present time, there never 
was a person who lived a perfectly moral life. Who has ever 
seen such a person ? What is his name ? Where did he dwell ? 
I repeat it again. There has never lived a single heathen, whose 
own conscience did not convict him of sin — who did not ac- 
knowledge that he did what he knew to be wrong. The world 
may be safely challenged to produce one solitary example : and 
when such an example is produced, then it may be said, " Saved 
without Christ." The testimony of the Scriptures is explicit. 
There is none righteous, no not one, there is none that doeth good, no 
not one, Eom. iii. 10-12. With experience and Scripture thus 
uniting their voices, we may without hesitation assert, that none 
who have arrived at years of maturity can be saved, unless they 
have heard of Christ, and believed on him. Hear the declaration 
of Peter and John, There is salvation in no other ; for there is none 
other name given under heaven among men, whereby we must be 
saved, Acts iv. 12. I beg that what I say may not be misappre- 
hended. While I believe that the heathen who do not believe on 
Christ are lost, I do not mean that they are condemned for not 
believing on Christ. They have never heard of Christ, and 
cannot be condemned for not believing on him ; but they are 
condemned, and that because they do not act according to the 
light of nature, which they already possess. Their own hearts 
condemn them ; and God who is greater than their hearts, also 
condemns them. They have sinned without the written law of 
God, and they perish without the written law, Kom. ii. 12 ; for 
they are judged according to their works. Neither do I believe 
that the punishment of the heathen who die without the knowl- 
edge of Christ will be as severe as the punishment of those who 
have heard of him, and refused to believe. That servant ivhich 
knew his Lord's will, and 'prepared not himself, neither did according 
to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, 
and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few 
stripes, Luke xii. 47, 48. Oh, my hearers, I warn you, as in the 
presence of God, that if you sink to perdition from under the 
sound of the gospel, your punishment will be inconceivably more 
dreadful than that of the heathen who have not heard these 
good tidings. It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the 
day of judgment than for thee, Matt. xi. 24. 

Is such the condition of the heathen ? Then is it not the part 
of charity — is it not the duty of those who possess the means, to 



240 



THE UNCERTAINTY OF RICHES. 



use every endeavor, and teach them how they may be saved ? 
If you cannot go yourselves and teach them how to believe, 
should you not send those who can? and support them while 
they give their time, and talents, and strength to this great work ? 
In reference to this also the apostle spoke, when he said, Do good, 
be rich in good ivorks, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. 
Remember the words of our Lord Jesus, hoiv he said, It is more 
blessed to give than to receive, Acts xx. 35 ; Brethren, ye know the 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he ivas rich, yet for your 
sokes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be made rich, 
2 Cor. viii. 9. 

Finally, by taking this course enjoined by the apostle, by 
ceasing to trust in riches, and trusting in the living God, and by 
showing the sincerity of your belief by your actions, you secure 
for yourselves a solid and permanent happiness. Thus you shall 
lay up in store for yourselves a good foundation for the time to come, 
and shall lay hold on eternal life. If your riches continue in your 
possession you shall enjoy them the more, because your own con- 
sciences will approve of the use you make of them. If by any 
dispensation of God's providence you are deprived of them, you 
shall witness their flight with little regret, for } r our ground of 
confidence, the living God, will still be the same ; and in either 
case, in all time of your prosperity and wealth, and in all time of 
your adversity and poverty, you shall look to the city built on 
sure foundations, where your treasures are safely guarded. There 
no moth nor rust corrupts, and thieves do not break through nor steal, 
Matt. vi. 20. 

Macao, July 21, 1844. 



SERMON XXVIII. 



BELIEVING PRATER. 

All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. — Matthew 
xxl 22. 

This is a very remarkable promise. Yet it is one often mis- 
understood, and is therefore worthy of a careful examination. It 
was spoken by our Saviour when he caused the fig-tree to wither 
which had nothing thereon but leaves only. The disciples marvelled 
when they saw it, saying, How soon is the fig-tree withered away, and 
our Saviour embraced the opportunity to impress on their minds 
a sense of the power of faith in God, and the benefits of faith in 
prayer. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
If ye have faith and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done 
to the fig-tree, but also, ye shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, 
and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done. And cdl things ivhatso- 
ever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. 

There may be a special reference here to the miraculous gifts, 
which, in the early history of the church, were given to the apos- 
tles and their followers for the establishing of the gospel in the 
earth. But the same promise is elsewhere made, where there is 
no special reference to miraculous gifts, and it is given there in 
even more explicit terms than those used in the text. For our 
Lord says, Ash, and it shall be given you : seek, and ye shall find : 
knock, and it shall be opened unto you ; for every one that asketh, re- 
ceiueth ; and he that seeketh, findeth ; and to him that knockeih, it shall 
be opened, Matt. vii. 7, 8. And so the apostle John tells us, We 
have confidence towards God, and whatsoever tue ask, we receive of 
him, 1 John iii. 22. How full and explicit are these promises ! 
It seems as if our gracious Creator had spread before us all his 
riches, telling us to put forth our hand, and take what we needed. 
Yet it is too manifest that notwithstanding these promises, much 
prayer is offered, which meets no favorable answer from God. 

16 



242 



BELIEVING PRAYER. 



How is this to be explained ? God is not a man that he should 
lie. His promise is on record, and if it is not fulfilled, there must 
be some sufficient reason why it is not. The apostle James 
gives one reason, Ye ash, and ye receive not, because ye ash amiss, 
that ye may consume it upon your lusts, James iv. 3. But this rea- 
son, though a most sufficient cause why God should refuse to an- 
swer such prayers, does not exist in all cases. For many persons 
pray, who have no such unworthy motives in asking, and yet 
they receive not. Humble and sincere, but desponding Chris- 
tians, and young converts, are often perplexed and troubled at 
this, and are almost tempted to ask, Is there not some secret res- 
ervation on the part of God ? Is there not some unknown con- 
dition attached to this promise, which prevents my receiving the 
answer ? But, no, there is no secret reservation — there is no un- 
known condition on the part of God. The promise is as plain as 
words can make it, All things whatsoever ye shall ash in prayer, be- 
lieving, ye shall receive. There is a condition expressed in this 
promise, which is often misapprehended, or overlooked. Give 
me your attention whilst I attempt to set it clearly before you. 

In order to obtain answers to our prayers, one condition is re- 
quired, and only one ; but that one is always required. It is 
that we pray in faith. All things — believing. This condition is 
expressed in this promise ; but it is implied in every promise, 
whether it be expressed or not. The very nature of prayer de- 
mands that it be in faith, otherwise it cannot be answered. Un- 
believing prayer cannot be acceptable to God ; for it is laid down 
as a positive law of his kingdom, Without faith it is impossible to 
please God, for he that cometh unto God must believe, Heb. xi. 6. 

Hence it is very plain why prayer is often not heard. Ask 
yourselves, what was the character of those prayers you offered, 
and to which you received no answer. Did you pray in faith, in 
the name of Christ, and with full persuasion of God's ability and 
willingness to answer ? Oh there is much meaning in our Sa- 
viour's inquiry, When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith 
on the earth f Luke xviii. 8 ; for even true believers oftentimes 
pray without faith. But here is the difficulty, and it is also the 
main point in our text, What is believing prayer t How shall we 
know if we have offered it ? for it seems that all hinges on this, 
and unless we offer it, it is useless to pray. All things whatsoever 
ye shall ash in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Or as it is, even 
more explicitly, in the parallel passage in Mark, What things so- 



BELIEVING PRAYER. 



243 



ever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall 
have them, Mark xi. 24. 

In answer to this inquiry, as to what constitutes prayer in 
faith, I may remark, that it does not consist in several things that 
are often thought to belong to it. 1. It does not consist in be- 
lieving that you shall receive the identical things you ask for. 
Many suppose it does, and are greatly distressed because they 
cannot firmly believe that they shall receive the very things they 
mention in prayer. But this is to mistake the object of faith. 
Faith is founded on the word of God, and not on our own fan- 
cies, wishes, or expectations ; and without the word of God, there 
is no warrant for such special faith as this. Unless you have a 
special promise from God, that you shall have the very things 
you name, you cannot believe that you shall receive them. You 
may earnestly desire a thing, and may pray for it in faith, and 
may receive it too, without any such assured conviction before- 
hand that it shall be granted. The case of Hezekiah when he 
was sick, is precisely in point. The prophet came to tell him he 
must die. Hezekiah earnestly desired to live, and prayed earnestly 
to God for life, and wept sore in his supplications. That prayer 
was offered in faith, for God heard it ; and yet, obviously, it was 
not possible for Hezekiah to believe that he should certainly have 
his petitions. How could he believe that he should live, when 
the word of God was, Thou shalt die and not live ! But when his 
prayer was offered in faith, and heard, and the promise was given 
him that he should live, then he believed he should have the 
very thing he requested. And so it is ordinarily. We may offer 
the prayer of faith, without being fully persuaded that the pre- 
cise object of our prayer shall be granted. 2. Nor are you to be- 
lieve that you shall have the things you ask in the very way, and 
manner, or at the very time you expect. You can believe noth- 
ing except what is revealed, and where have you any revelation 
that you shall have what you ask, just when and how you choose ? 
The apostle Paul was very desirous to visit Eome, and often 
prayed that he might do so. His prayer was answered, but nei- 
ther in the time nor in the way that he expected. Instead of go- 
ing there speedily and of his own accord, he was led there a pris- 
oner, after many delays, and multiplied perils. And how often 
is this true in Christian experience. The young convert is anx- 
ious to grow in grace, and become holy, and offers earnest prayer 
to God to effect this. Those prayers are heard and answered, 



244 BELIEVING PRAYEK. 

but not often in the way he expects. There are few who might 
not adopt the words of the pious J ohn Newton : 

" I asked the Lord that I might grow 
In faith, and love, and every grace : 
'Twas he who taught me thus to pray. 
And he I trust has answered prayer : 
But it has been in such a way 
As almost drove me to despair." 

Neither Scripture nor experience, therefore, justify or require 
the Christian to believe that he shall always obtain precisely what 
he asks ; or if he obtains it, that it shall be in the way, and at the 
time he expects. Now the characters of believing prayer are 
these : — 

1. There must be a just sense of our own condition and wants. 
This is one of the hardest of all things, for our ignorance of what 
is really good for us, and necessary, is notorious. "We are like 
sick men, who are constantly craving after that which would 
injure them, and in too many of our prayers we ask God to give 
us what would be ruinous to our best interests. One man asks 
for wealth, which would only make him proud, and forgetful of 
God. Another asks for health, when, perhaps, there is nothing 
he needs so much as a painful course of disciplinary sickness. 
One man asks for joy, when it may be better for himself in the 
end, and most for the glory of God, that he be exercised in the 
depths of sorrow. Another asks for the life of his sick child, and 
will take no denial, not foreseeing that if his request were granted, 
he might mourn bitterly in the latter end, over the crimes and 
the follies which an early death would have prevented. How 
truly it was said by the apostle Paul, We know not what we should 
pray for as we ought, Eom. viii. 26. And how candidly does he con- 
fess, that he himself prayed for the removal of a thorn in the flesh, 
which the Lord saw to be needful for him, 2 Cor. xii. 8. Most 
necessary is it, therefore, that we should know what we want ; 
and if we are ignorant, then there is a precious promise, that the 
Spirit shall help our infirmities, and teach us to make intercession 
according to the will of God, Eom. viii. 26, 27. Let each one 
therefore carefully study his own wants, that he may know what 
it is he needs, and pray accordingly. 

2. In the next place, there must be an earnest desire to obtain 
what we ask. It must be not merely a wish, but an appetite, a 



BELIEVING PRAYER. 



245 



"hungering and thirsting after it; and this will lead to earnest 
prayer that we may obtain it. Just as a child when hungry 
comes to its father for bread, and asks, expecting to receive what 
is needful, so must we. This is the very comparison our Saviour 
uses. What man is there of you whom if his son ash oread, icill he 
give him a stone? Or if he ash a fish, will he give him a serpent? 
If ye. then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how 
much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to 
them that ash him? Matt. vii. 9—11. What reply would you make 
to the request of your child, if he came and asked for a thing 
without desiring it ? Would not every wise parent defer grant- 
ing his request, till he really needed and wished what he asked ? 
It is only the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man that availeth 
much, James v. 16; and all who come to God without desires, 
shall be sent away without reply. 

3. But chiefly, the prayer of faith implies a due sense of the 
character of God, and such a belief, trust, and confidence, as shall 
honor him. Without a just knowledge of his character, you can- 
not come to him with the feelings which believing prayer implies. 
Those points of his character which you must chiefly know are 
these: — 

(1.) That he is everywhere present, and knows all things, that 
he is near you, and hears your prayers. Need I prove that this 
is true ? Is it not expressly declared, that the eye of the Lord is in 
every place, beholding the evil and the good, Pro v. xv. 3. And is he 
not called the Hearer of prayer? Oh thou that nearest prayer, 
unto thee shall all flesh come, Ps. lxv. 2. 

(2.) That he is Almighty, and however great the things you 
ask, his power is greater still. It is in vain to come to God, unless 
you believe that he is able to grant your request. Often when 
the blind and the needy came to Christ, he asked, Believe ye that 
I am able to do this? and according to their faith it ivas done unto 
them, Matt. ix. 29. But in other places he did no mighty works 
because of their unbelief, Matt. xiii. 58. 

(3.) That he is supremely good, and is both willing and ready 
to bestow every needed blessing on those who ask. To attempt 
to prove that God is ready and willing to bestow good on his 
creatures, is like proving that the sun gives light and heat. In 
him we live and move and have our being, Acts xvii. 28. Every 
good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the 
Father of lights, James i. 17. It was such a conviction as this that 



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BELIEVING PKAYEK. 



filled the Leper's heart, when he came to Christ, and loor shipping 
him, said, Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean, Matt. viii. 2. 
How acceptable his faith was to Christ, we may readily see in the 
answer of our Lord, Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, say- 
ing, I will, be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed, 
Matt. viii. 2, 3. Faith thus looks upon God, as a Father, ever 
near, all-powerful and kind ; and it applies to him with confidence 
in him and affection for him. It lays hold on his promises, and 
pleads them as a ground of hope. 

4. There is but one other requisite to believing prayer, that 
needs now to be mentioned, and that is — It must be in the name of 
Christ. The heart in which faith exists, has also been convinced 
of sin. The believer is profoundly sensible of his own un worthi- 
ness and ill-deserts. He does not dare to come in his own name, 
nor to rely on his own merits for acceptance with God. He looks 
around for some one to be his security, whose merits are sufficient 
to cover all his sins, and to purchase all the blessings he needs. 
Such a one he finds in Christ, and accordingly, putting his trust 
in him, he offers his prayers in his name. This is done in obedi- 
ence to our Lord's command, Verily, verily, 1 say unto you, what- 
soever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 
Hitherto ye have ashed nothing in my name; ash and ye shall receive, 
that your joy may be full, John xvi. 23, 24. 

Such are the requisites in the heart that would offer prayer. 
And to pray with faith and acceptance, it is only necessary to 
call these feelings into exercise. Knowing thus the character of 
God, you will come to him with confidence in his ability and 
willingness to hear yon, and with affection, and love, and rever- 
ence. Knowing your own wants and necessities, you will come 
with earnest desires to have them supplied, and will not readily go 
away without securing what you want ; and knowing your own 
unworthiness, and Christ's all-sufficiency, you cannot but choose 
to ask in his name, while in proportion to the largeness of your 
views of his merits, will be the strength of your own confidence 
of success. Such is believing prayer. Come then with these feel- 
ings to the throne of grace. Yea, come boldly, that you may 
obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. 
Come with the fullest confidence in God, for in Christ we have 
access with confidence by the faith of him, Eph. ii. 12. You come 
to a God of boundless might and love — to a Being whose heart 
expands with benevolence to all his creatures — to a fountain that 



BELIEVING PRAYER. 



247 



is ever sending forth the streams of joy. Stint not therefore your 
asking. As the Lord said to Ahaz, by the prophet, so might it 
be said to you, Ash thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ash it either 
in the depth, or in the height above, Is. vii. 11, and it shall be granted, 
for says our Saviour, All things whatsoever ye shall ash in prayer 
believing, ye shall receive. All things! Then how large is the 
field before you, and how varied are the objects for which you 
may pray with the certainty of a favorable answer ! 

But here, the believer is met by a question which has greatly 
embarrassed many — What is meant by the all things which he 
may ask ? Are we to understand absolutely all things ? Is there 
no exception ? It requires but a very little reflection to be as- 
sured that the words of our Saviour cannot mean literally all 
things. Some things in their own nature are bad, and would ruin 
both body and soul. It is not to be supposed therefore that the 
Christian should ask for these ; nor if he would ask for them, 
that (rod would bestow them on him. If he should by some mis- 
chance ask for them, our gracious Creator would not grant them. 
What father would give his child a poisonous reptile for a play- 
thing, even though the child were to beg with tears for so danger- 
ous a gift ? Many things too, which are not wrong, would be in- 
jurious to certain persons. For such things they should not ask, 
nor if they should ask, could Gfod be expected to bestow them. 
Strong meat is not for children, but for grown men, and the sick 
man would not be nourished by the food that is required by those 
in health. But surely none would rebuke the father, or the phy- 
sician, who would refuse the request that the child in his childish- 
ness, or the patient in his thoughtlessness, or ignorance made. 
When therefore our Saviour says All things — ye shall receive, the 
very nature of the case supposes there is some exception or lim- 
itation. And it is a question of no little interest what is that 
limitation? The truth n\&y perhaps be most clearly expressed 
by saying that " All things whatsoever we shall ask in prayer, 
believing, shall be granted, so far as the granting of them is con- 
sistent with God's glory, and our own good/' Eom. viii. 28. Or 
the same truth may be expressed in other words, even the words 
of the beloved disciple, If we ash anything according to his will : he 
heareth us, 1 John v. 14. 

At first sight, this seems like a larger exception ; but consider 
a moment, and it is no exception or limitation at all. There is 
no man living who would ask for what he knew was not 



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BELIEVING PRAYER. 



good for him, and surely there is no Christian who could ask 
for that which should dishonor God. Fancy a child of God 
deliberately requesting his Creator to give him what was use- 
less to himself, or not for the glory of God! But I will not 
shock you with such a supposition. The thing is impossible. 
It is therefore no exception to say, that the Christian may pray 
for all things, except what is not for his own good, or for the glory 
of God. There is no exception, when Christ says, All things what- 
soever ye shall ash in prayer believing, ye shall receive, for the Chris- 
tian will not knowingly ask for things which he ought not to re- 
ceive ; and if by mistake he should ask for such things, his own 
heart would say, as soon as informed of his mistake — " Oh do not 
grant that petition." But if in the believing spirit already described, 
you pray for things you need, and which it shall be for God's 
glory to grant, you shall certainly obtain your request. You shall 
have all things you need, and more you cannot ask. You shall 
obtain the very things you want, or else shall be enriched with 
gifts which you yourself would prefer, to what you may have 
asked for. The question then will readily arise, How shall we 
know whether what we pray for, is for God's glory and our own 
good ? Or how shall our prayer be acceptable, if through igno- 
rance we mistake, and ask for what we should not ? The question 
is not difficult to answer. For, 

1. There are many things which we are certain it is right to 
ask for. We are commanded to pray for those very things, and 
are assured that prayer for them shall be answered. And what 
are those things ? They are the very things most indispensable 
to our comfort and eternal salvation. The chief end of man is to 
glorify God and enjoy him forever, but this we cannot do without 
help from on high. That help comes to us from the Holy Spirit, 
whose influences are as needful for our spiritual life, as the at- 
mospheric air is for that of the body. Now in all the Scriptures 
there is nothing so explicitly promised to believers, as the influ- 
ences of the Holy Spirit. It is but to ask, and receive — but to 
open the mouth, and to breathe. We can never err in asking for 
all things connected with our salvation. The pardon of our sins 
— the sanctification of our natures — deliverance from the power 
of Satan — increase of Christian graces — extended means of use- 
fulness — and the promotion of God's kingdom, and glory on earth, 
are legitimate objects of prayer, in which the effectual fervent prayer 
of the righteous availeth much, James v. 16. 



i 



BELIEVING PRAYER. 



249 



2. It is also in all ordinary cases, right and proper, to pray for 
Such temporal mercies, as are needful for our health and comfort. 
It might be dangerous to pray for riches, we are not required to 
pray for poverty, but we may adopt the prayer of Agar, Give me 
neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me, Pro v. 
xxx. 8. This we are taught by our blessed Lord himself, when 
he instructed us to pray, Give us this day our daily bread. 

3. A diligent examination of our own case and of God's prov- 
idential dealings with us, and a careful study of the word of God, 
will often show us that there are many things concerning which 
we may pray, with almost the certainty of having our prayers 
heard. But there are many subjects where Ave do not seem to 
have such clear intimations that we shall receive a favorable an- 
swer, and yet they press upon the Christian's mind, and he feels 
that it would be a relief to spread them before God, and ask his 
blessing in reference to them. Is it right to do so ? Can he of- 
fer the prayer of faith when he has no special promise, and if so, 
how ? I answer, most undoubtedly he can, and it would be wrong 
not to do it, and this class includes literally everything that con- 
cerns us, our pursuits, our interests or our friends. It matters 
not how unimportant the affair may seem, if it presses on your 
mind, it is your privilege and duty to lay it before your God, and 
ask for his guidance and direction. In your private prayers to 
him you cannot be too particular. You cannot tell him too fa- 
miliarly all you suffer, and all you want. Whether the subject 
of interest to you be your worldly pursuits — your health — your 
plans for the future — your present difficulties or joys — your 
friends — your children — your country, whatever it be, it is a le- 
gitimate subject of prayer to God. For says the apostle, In every- 
thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests 
be made known unto God, Phil. iv. 6. With such a warrant, how 
can you hesitate to go to him with every want ? Do not fear that 
you will weary him, — or that in the multiplicity of petitions thus 
presented, he will overlook your case. His ear is ever open, and 
he will more delight to hear all your requests, than the fondest 
mother to listen to the innocent prattling of her child. Can a 
woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion 
on the son of her womb f Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget 
thee I Is. xlix. 15. 

But observe, that all this, while you may and should ask 
with earnest desires, must be with entire submission to God's 



250 



BELIEVING- PKAYEE. 



will. If it be for his glory to grant what you ask, then you shall 
have it; but you should also say, "If not for thy glory, grant 
not my request." Cast your eyes back to the silent and sorrow- 
ful garden of Gethsemane. Behold there your Saviour, on his 
face, in his deadly agony — listen to his strong crying, and mark 
his tears, while he prays that, if possible, the bitter cup might pass 
from him — but hear also those words, so soft, yet so distinct, 
Nevertheless, not my will, hut thine he done — and go thou and do 
likewise. Then shall your prayer be heard and answered, if not 
in the way you desired, yet in that way which Infinite Wisdom 
sees best for you. The duty of prayer is one generally acknowl- 
edged, but I fear sadly neglected. It is in itself so proper that 
dependent creatures should thus call upon their Creator — it is so 
expressly commanded in his word — it is in itself so useful, and so 
delightful an exercise — that there can be no question as to its 
duty and desirableness. Yet, alas ! how many there are that 
do not pray ! Crowds flock to the levees of kings, but few to 
the footstool of the Almighty. Men count it an honor to be inti- 
mate with their fellow- worms, who happen to stand a little higher 
than others, but turn away in undisguised coldness from the 
opportunities of intimate intercourse with the King of kings. 
How many of you, my hearers, are in the habit of daily secret 
prayer ? How often do you shut your closet door, and pray to 
your Father which seeth in secret ? And of those among you 
who do pray, what is the character of your prayers ? Do you 
come with reverence, and yet with affection — with, humble confi- 
dence, as to a gracious Father — and pour into his bosom the full 
tide of pent-up feelings, and gushing emotions, that elsewhere 
find no rest ? Is your heart filled with peace, and do you retire 
from bis presence more humble, more watchful, more resolved to 
be entirely his ? If so, it is well. Believing prayer produces such 
effects as these. 

But if you come into his presence with carelessness — if you 
worship him without seriousness or affection — if you find wan- 
dering thoughts habitually eating out the life of your devotion — 
if you retire from your knees, unhumbled, unfeeling, and mingle 
again in the world, as though you had not been conversing with 
God — then be assured it is not well with you. You have not 
prayed aright, and shall not receive. 

Macao, August 19, 1844. 



» 



SEEMON XXIX. 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 

By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of 
God.— Eph. ii. 8. 

It seemed a dark dispensation of Providence which shut the 
apostle Paul in prison, and bound him with a chain in Eome. 
Such an event had been greatly feared by the disciples, in the 
several cities through which he passed, on his last journey to 
Jerusalem ; and they had united their tears and entreaties to turn 
him aside from his purpose, and spare a little longer to the 
churches the piety and the eloquence that had already brought 
so many into the church. But the apostle was inflexible. He 
went bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, where he was ready, not to be 
bound only, but also to die for the Lord Jesus, Acts xxi. 13. You 
know his history. He was seized in Jerusalem, bound, and 
beaten, and delivered to the Eoman power, and to escape the 
malice and cunning of his own countrymen, obliged to appeal 
unto Caesar. After long imprisonment and delay, he left the 
shores of Palestine for the Imperial City, followed by the prayers 
and the tears of the sorrowing disciples. They watched his 
departure with sad forebodings, for to their apprehensions it must 
have seemed certain that the eloquent voice which had not feared, 
even before Felix, to reason of righteousness, temperance, and judgment 
to come, would now be silenced, and the energetic hand which had 
been stretched out before Agrippa, while he answered for himself, 
would now be fettered and useless. But behold how rich is the 
goodness and the wisdom of God. His voice was not silenced, 
but for two full years he preached in his own hired house in 
Eome, to all who came unto him, no man forbidding him, Acts 
xxviii. 30, 31. His hand was not fettered, but he wrote and sent 
forth his Epistles, to warn, and comfort, and instruct the churches 



252 



SALVATION BY GKACE. 



he had left. His soul was not bound, but he was there favored 
with enlargement of spirit, and astonishing revelations of the 
grace of God. From his prison-house have gone forth some of 
the richest treasures of the church, for the Epistles written during 
his imprisonment, breathe the aspirations of a soul almost in 
heaven. The Epistle to the Ephesians is especially remarkable. 
None of all his writings are more rich in gospel truth than this. 
None compress so much thought in so few words. None speak 
in more glowing terms of the exceeding grace of Christ. He 
dwells on the fulness and freeness of that grace, and heaps 
expression on expression, as though laboring to describe its 
greatness. 

By the grace of God, we are to understand that gracious feeling 
of benignity, or love, which God exercises towards any of our 
race in saving them from their sins. Its very name implies that 
it is free on God's part, being exercised to those utterly unworthy 
of it. It is undeserved, unbought iavor, and in the New Testa- 
ment is constantly contrasted with works. For, says the apostle, 
If by grace, then it is no more of works : otherwise grace is no more 
grace, Eom. xi. 6. For, to him that luorheth, the reward is not 
reckoned of grace, but of debt, Eom. iv. 4. 

The most cursory examination of those passages of Scripture, 
which speak of the grace of God in man's salvation, shows that 
the inspired writers deemed its greatness unspeakable. As in 
describing the sufferings of our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane, 
the evangelists ransacked all the copiousness of the Greek lan- 
guage for terms of sorrow, so in describing the greatness of 
that grace, which is at once the cause and the effect of that suffering, 
the apostle seems equally intent to use the most forcible expres- 
sions. Not content with calling upon the Ephesians to admire 
the riches of the grace of God, Eph. i. 7, he shows them also the ex- 
ceeding riches of his grace, ii. 7, and glories in his apostleship, which 
enabled him to preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches 
of Christ, iii. 8 ; and elsewhere he speaks in the deepest humility, 
of the grace of the Lord Jesus which was exceeding abundant 
towards himself, 1 Tim. i. 14. Our text, which speaks of this grace 
of God, is naturally divided into three propositions : — 

I. Salvation is entirely of grace — By grace ye are saved. 

II. The instrument by which we obtain salvation is faith — 
Through faith. 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 253 

III. Even faith is a gracious gift of God — And that not of your- 
selves: it is the gift of God 

I. That our salvation is entirely of grace is seen in several 
particulars : — 

1. The author of our salvation is the infinite God. Before 
any of his creatures were made, he existed alone, perfectly inde- 
pendent, perfectly blessed, and needing none to add to his happi- 
ness. He saw fit to create the universe, and to beautify it with 
innumerable gifts. His works partake of the greatness of his 
own character, and it is he who gives us life, and breath, and all 
things, Acts xvii. 25. But can it be deemed possible that this 
great and glorious Being should ever be under obligations to any 
of his creatures ? Can we conceive for a moment, that any of 
those who owe their whole existence to his free goodness, can by 
any services merit his favor, and of right demand more than he 
chooses to give ? Let no such idea enter any man's mind. Let 
the Hindoo dream, by his bodily austerities, and self-imposed 
penances, and acts of merit, to make Brahma or Siva his debtor, 
but let not the Christian who is taught, when he has done all, to 
say, ive are unprofitable servants, ice have done only ivhat it was our 
duty to do, Luke xvii. 10, harbor any such vain fancy. Hear the 
words of Eliphaz and Elihu to Job, Is it any pleasure to the Al- 
mighty that thou art righteous f or is it gain to him that thou mahest 
thy ways perfect? Job xxii. 3. If thou be righteous, what givest thou 
him, or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy ivickedness may hurt 
a man as thou art, and thy righteousness may 'profit the son of man, 
Job xxxv. 7, 8, but they cannot add to, or take from the wealth 
of your Creator. 

Even were our race all sinless beings, they could have no 
claim upon Jehovah. All things come of him, and it would still 
be of his own that they served him, 1 Chron. xxix. 14. The 
idea that any of his creatures can make the eternal and su- 
preme Jehovah a debtor to himself, is preposterous. The sinless 
angels who stand around his throne, and await his commands, 
ask for no rewards and claim no merits. His service is their life, 
and though he bestows upon them unnumbered benefits, this is 
only of his own free and abounding goodness. The salvation, 
therefore, of any of our race, must of necessity be a free gift on 
the part of God. 

And this is still more evident, when you consider who they 
are who receive it, for it is not to sinless beings that this grace is 



254 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 



offered. Although even a sinless person cannot demand life of 
God, as his right, yet there is nothing in the character of such a 
person to prevent God from bestowing such a gift. But we to 
whom this salvation is preached, are fall of sin, very far removed 
from God as creatures, our distance is yet infinitely greater as 
sinners ; for as the apostle shows in the chapter from which our 
text is taken, those who receive salvation are dead in trespasses and 
in sins ; far from being obedient servants of God, they walk, ac- 
cording to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power 
of the air, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. 
Far from being holy, and pure in life, they have their conversation 
in the lusts of the flesh, fidfilling the desires of the flesh, and of the 
mind, and to sum up all in one word, are by nature the children of 
wrath even as others, Eph. ii. 1-3. Now it is too obvious to re- 
quire proof, that if the great and independent God who cannot 
be under obligations to any of his creatures, is pleased to take 
any of our sinful race, and make them heirs of salvation, it must 
be by grace alone. 

2. That this salvation is entirely of grace appears still more 
clearly in the choice of the persons who receive it. For it is not 
all the human race, who are made partakers. There is melancholy 
meaning in the words of our compassionate Lord — Strait is the 
gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that 
find it, Matt. vi. 14. And who are they that find that narrow 
gate ? Who are they that receive that word, and embrace the 
proffered salvation? Are they the rich, or the wise, or the 
amiable, or the distinguished among men ? Sometimes they are, 
but often they are not — Nay, commonly they are not, for to the 
poor the gospel is preached, and not many wise, not many mighty, 
not many noble are called, 1 Cor. i. 26. God does not choose the 
heirs of his inheritance as man would choose. It is not for us to 
ask why one is taken rather than another, but we know that while 
he who trusts to his own goodness is left, the abandoned sinner is 
sometimes taken. Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight, 
is all that we can say, when God sees fit to reveal unto babes, 
what he conceals from the wise and prudent, Matt. xi. 26. A 
choice there must be, if all do not receive it ; but the reasons of 
that choice are not made known to us. The doctrine of God's 
eternal election, is one much cavilled at among men ; but it is 
well for us there is an election, for otherwise, none would or 
could be saved. The whole race would go down to destruction 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 



255 



forever, were there not an election of grace. It is God himself 
who says, I will he gracious to whom I luill he gracious, and tuill 
show mercy to whom I will show mercy, Exod. xxxiii. 19. The 
apostle quotes this declaration, and then draws the obvious con- 
clusion — So then it is not of him that ivilleth, nor of him that run- 
neth, hut of God that showeth mercy, Eom. xi. 15, 16 ; and he must 
be bold indeed, who dares to arraign him for so doing. Shall 
not the Judge of all the earth do right? and shall the poor blind 
creatures of a day, who scarcely know their own minds, censure 
Him who knows all things, and doeth all things according to his 
own pleasure? If there be anything that shows the purely 
gratuitous nature of our salvation, it is the doctrine of election ; 
for the very idea of a choice to eternal life, before the person 
chosen has done either good or evil, makes it manifest, that it is 
grace, and not merit which secures it. Thus, the purpose of God 
according to election, stands not of icorJcs, hut of him that calleth, 
Eom. ix. 11. "Those of mankind that are predestinated unto 
eternal life, God before the foundation of the world was laid, ac- 
cording to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret 
counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ to 
everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without 
any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of 
them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes 
moving him thereunto : and all to the praise of his glorious 
grace." — Con. of Faith, iii. The heart of every real child of God 
acknowledges this. I appeal to your own experience, fellow- 
Christian, and follower of Christ. "What was there in you to 
attach the love of God, when he called you to himself? What 
could he see in you, to make him choose you in preference to 
others around, not so distinguished ? You were not seeking him 
when he called you — you were running away from him — you 
were forgetting him — you were chasing this world's pleasures as 
a child chases butterflies — you were saying by your actions, if 
not by your words, "Depart from me, I desire not the knowledge 
of thy ways.'" As Christ said to the apostles, so he says to all 
his disciples, Ye have not chosen me hut Ihave chosen you, John xv. 
16. And ever since you have professed to be his, what is there 
in you to attract his love ? Why doth he still bear with your 
backslidings — your lukewarmness — your unkindness ? I appeal 
to the honest convictions of your own hearts, and to the repeated 
confessions of your own prayers, that all this is not because you 



256 



SALVATION BY GKACE. 



have deserved it, but because of bis free grace. God who is rich 
in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were 
dead in sins, hath quickened us together ivith Christ. By grace are ye 
saved, Epb. ii. 4, 5. 

It is not my present purpose to enter on a full discussion of 
tbe doctrine of election, but there is oue remark that should not 
be forgotten. The humble, and especially the desponding believer 
is oftentimes troubled for want of clear evidence of his safety, 
and is distressed because he cannot believe he is elected to life. 
That you are one of God's elect (if you really be such), is a truth 
that you are not required to believe on the evidence of faith, but 
on that of experience. You are not required to believe that you are 
elected. You are not required to believe anything that is not re- 
vealed, and you have no revelation of God's secret purposes to- 
wards you.. These sacred things belong only unto God ; those 
that are revealed, and those alone, belong to us, Deut. xxix. 29. 
The exhortation of the apostle is not to believe that you are 
elected, but it is rather, Give diligence to make your calling and elec- 
tion sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. That is, make sure your interest in Christ 
— obey his revealed will — keep his commandments — show by 
your life, that you are his — and when thus you feel his love glow- 
ing in your hearts, then shall you know by experience your elec- 
tion of God. Thus only can you know it. Many might thus 
learn it, but their own negligence prevents them ; and there are 
but few who acquire in this life a clear conviction of it, even as 
there are but few that obtain full assurance of their salvation, ere 
they enter heaven. 

3. But the grace of God is chiefly displayed in the way in 
which salvation was purchased for us. It was not enough that 
God in his infinite goodness and love had purposes of mercy to 
any of our race. It was not enough that in his sovereign election 
he had chosen some to be the recipients of his grace ; those whom 
he had chosen were like all others, sinful, guilty, and condemned. 
They were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, Eph. ii. 3. 
They were sometimes alienated, and enemies in mind by wicked works, 
Col. i. 23. The stains of sin were in their souls. The claims of 
justice were still unsatisfied, and the wrath of God was still 
hanging over them. God had indeed his purposes of mercy and 
grace toward them, but mercy and grace cannot be exercised at 
the expense of justice, and therefore the mercy that chose them 
to be heirs of salvation, must provide also a way to satisfy justice 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 



257 



and the means to sanctify their souls. Who then shall pay their 
mighty debt ? Who is able to loose the band that binds them, 
and set these prisoners free ? The angels who stood round the 
throne of Grod were dumb, when this question was proposed to 
them : but there was one there, greater than them all. who 
hastened to reply. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. Then said I, 
Lo I come/ in the volume of the booh it is written of me, Ps. xl. 7. 
Here is the exceeding riches of the grace of Christ. He who is 
(rod's fellow, and thinks it no robbery to be equal with God, un- 
dertakes to bear the penalty, and pay the dreadful ransom. It 
was no hasty motion that prompted this proposal. From all eter- 
nity he foresaw every painful step he must take — the humiliation 
of his life on earth — the pain, the shame, the spitting, and the 
cross. He saw them all, and chose them all, and that even with 
delight that so he might redeem man, Prov. viii. 30. Age after 
age rolled away, and his mighty plan was gradually unfolded, that 
man might mark its every line. Prophets, and priests, and kings, 
sacrifices, and ceremonies, and types, and sacred ordinances, all 
united and pointed onward to the cross. Still age after age rolled 
away, and at last in the fulness of time he was born. Por whom 
did he come ? Not for his friends, but to die for his enemies. 
To whom did he come ? He came to his own, and his own re- 
ceived him not. He took up his cross from his cradle, and he 
bore it with unfaltering steps to his tomb. It needs not to go 
over his painful history. It must be familiar to you all, and you 
have read it with singularly unreflecting minds, if the thought 
has not been forced upon you, How great is the grace that has 
done all this ! Yerily God commendeth his love towards us, in that 
while ice were yet simmers, Christ died for us, Eom. v. 8. He hath 
done all that was needed. He bore the penalty due to our sins — 
he paid the price that justice demanded for our redemption — he 
purchased the pardon that we needed, and. now he offers the grace 
by which we must be saved. 

A most singular objection has been started by some against 
the doctrine of salvation by grace. It is alleged that now since 
Christ has fully satisfied the justice of Grod, and bore the utmost 
penalty of the law, it is no longer grace, but simple justice, to par- 
don our sins, and receive us into favor. Strange that any such 
idea should enter any human breast ! Was it not grace that 
prompted Christ to take our nature and die for us ? Did justice 
require this sacrifice at his hands ? Might he not have left us to 

17 



258 



SALVATION BY GEACE. 



the penalties that our own follies had entailed upon us ? And was 
it not grace in God the Father to accept the offered atonement of 
Christ? Had he listened to the stern demands of justice alone, 
then each sinner must have borne for himself the full penalty of 
his transgressions. No, my hearers. It is but justice to Christ 
that all those should be redeemed whom he has chosen, and for 
whom he died ; but it is grace to those for whom he died. We 
are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus, Eom. iii. 24. Well might the apostle speak of the 
riches of that grace, and describe it as exceediny abundant, for into 
these things the angels desire to look, 1 Pet. i. 12. 

4. Finally, the grace of God in our salvation is seen in the 
way in which it is made known and applied to us. Christ was not 
satisfied with simply procuring salvation for his people, though 
this alone required the sacrifice of his life. The grace that had 
done even this, was not yet exhausted. Of what avail would all 
his sufferings, and his most painful death have been, if not made 
known, and applied to us by the Almighty power of God. Our 
blinded hearts care little for things which rouse the curiosity of 
the heavenly hosts, and even when brought to our knowledge, so 
hardened are we in sin, that we will not receive salvation, till se- 
cretly forced thereto by the Holy Spirit. Behold here also the 
love of God ! That grace which began the work, and purchased 
pardon also, makes it known, and applies it to our hearts. This 
salvation began to be spoken at the first by the Lord himself Heb. ii. 
3 ; for it was Jesus Christ who came and preached peace to you which 
were afar off, and to them which were nigh, Eph. ii. 17. He sent 
forth the apostles on the same errand ; and when he left the 
world, he appointed an order of men, to continue till the end of 
time, whose sole business it is to proclaim this salvation, and ad- 
minister its ordinances. Those who fill this most responsible of- 
fice, have authority from himself, to offer it to all without money, 
and without price. The very object of this ministry is to show the 
grace of Christ. Unto me, says the apostle Paul, who am less than 
the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among 
the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see 
ivhat is the fellowship of the mystery, Eph. iii. 8, 9. In his name, my 
hearers, do I minister unto you. In virtue of his authority, do I 
invite you also to partake of this salvation. "We to whom this 
ministry of reconciliation is entrusted, are ambassadors for Christ, 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 



259 



as though God did beseech you by us : we pray you in Christ's stead, 
be ye reconciled to God, 2 Cor. v. 20. 

How freely is the word of God dispensed to men. Even as 
the rain cometh down from heaven. So copiously, so refresh- 
ingly is it given, Is. lv. 10. Surely the grace of God is seen in 
the institution of that ministry which explains and proclaims it. 
But it is yet more evident. The mere preaching of the word, 
though it leaves all who hear it utterly without excuse, if they do 
not believe, is not alone sufficient. Mere attendance on or- 
dinances does, not save the soul. Paul may plant, and Apollos 
water, but God gives the increase, 1 Cor. iii. 6. Without his bless- 
ing, no mere illumination of the understanding is sufficient. 
Herein also is his grace seen. Every other gift of Christ is made 
available to us by that last and exceeding precious gift which, 
when departing, he promised to his disciples — the gift of the Holy 
Spirit. It is impossible to form too high a conception of its value. 
It is the Spirit who takes of the things of Christ, and shows them 
unto us. It is the Spirit who opens our hearts to receive the 
truth. It is the " Spirit of God who makes the reading, and espe- 
cially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing 
and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and 
comfort through faith, unto salvation." And how readily is it 
given ! You know how to give good gifts to your children, but 
how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit 
to them that ask him. Think not that this gift can be bought. 
Thy money perish with thee, was Peter's indignant rebuke to Simon, 
because thou hast thought that the gift of God could be purchased with 
money, Acts viii. 20. In this, as in every other particular, the 
grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto men, Tit. 
ii. 11. 

Suffer me, in conclusion, to direct your minds to a particular 
contemplation of this subject. You have seen how in every step, 
salvation is entirely of grace. That it should be otherwise is seen 
to be impossible in the very nature of God, who cannot be laid 
under obligations to any of his creatures, and who in choosing any 
of our race to be partakers of his glory, is influenced by his own 
sovereign love alone. You have seen how in this gift of his Son 
to die for us, and in all his painful history, it is grace that shines 
pre-eminent. You have seen his grace in the appointment of the 
ministry of reconciliation, and more conspicuous in the free gift 
of his Holy Spirit to apply salvation to us. 



260 



SALVATION BY GRACE. 



" Grace first contrived the way 
To save rebellious man, 
And all the steps that grace display 
Which drew the wondrous plan. 
It lays in heaven the topmost stone, 
, And well deserves the praise." 

As it has been beautifully expressed, "It is not like a fringe of 
gold bordering the garment — not like an embroidery of gold, 
decorating the robe — but like the mercy-seat of the ancient taber- 
nacle, which was gold — pure gold — all gold throughout. 

By grace ye are saved ! In the compass of this expression is 
included deliverance from all that is evil, and the bestowment of 
all that is good. Saved from the wrath of God — delivered from 
the power of Satan — freed from the chains of sin — sanctified in 
the inner man — called into the fellowship of the saints in light — 
and made partakers of eternal glory and blessedness, and all this 
by grace / Eejoice then in this exceeding grace of God. Fill your 
hearts with enlarged conceptions of it, till like the apostle, lan- 
guage shall fail ere you express its greatness. Meditate much upon 
it, and let your thankfulness for it find utterance in daily pray- 
ers and praises. Thus shall you daily find abundant cause to say 
with Mary, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath re- 
joiced in God my Saviour, Luke i. 46. 

And whilst you rejoice, let it also humble you. Salvation by 
grace exalts God, but it abases man. You have nothing you can call 
your own but sin. You have not purchased nor deserved your 
salvation, nor can you. It is all of grace. Where is boasting then f 

But this consideration is one full of all consolation to the be- 
liever. Is it all of grace ? Then it is sure. There is nothing of 
human merit, or human goodness, which is but as the morning 
cloud and the early dew. It is all the gift of the perfect and un- 
changing Jehovah, and is therefore, like himself, perfect and un- 
changeable. Did your salvation depend on yourselves, you might 
well tremble ; but it is the gift of God ; and be assured, free as 
his gifts are, he will not throw them away, nor leave them unfin- 
ished. If he has begun a good work in you, his grace will as- 
suredly carry it on to its final consummation. And in the mean- 
time, whatever dangers or trials may attend you, or however dark 
your way may seem, put your trust in him, and fear not. He saith 
to the believer, My grace is sufficient for thee, and he hath said, / 
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 

Macao, Sept. 1, 1844. 



SERMON XXX. 



SAVING FAITH. 

By grace are ye saved, through faith : and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of 
God. — Eph. ii. 8. 

In the previous discourse from this text, an attempt was made 
to show how our salvation is entirely of grace. This was done by 
showing, that the character of God, who is independent of all his 
creatures ; his sovereign election of some to everlasting life ; his 
giving of his own Son to die for us all ; the appointment of the 
ministry ; and the free gift of the Holy Spirit — all require it to be 
of grace, and not of works. It is proposed in this discourse to 
show how we acquire an interest in that salvation, thus freely of- 
fered to our acceptance. 

The work of man's salvation is a very great work. It involved 
an amount of preparation, and a degree of labor, and even of suf 
fering, such as were never before seen in the universe. Heaven 
and earth were moved for its accomplishment, and the inmost 
depths of hell from beneath are stirred ere it is completed. The 
Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all combine 
to effect it. Satan and his legions oppose it. Ages and ages de- 
velop the mighty plan. Multitudes whom no man can number, 
are the objects it seeks to rescue. Its results stretch far off into 
the endless depths of eternity, and while they who oppose it are 
reserved to shame and everlasting contempt, they that be wise and 
embrace it shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that 
turn many to righteousness , as the stars forever and ever ) Dan. xii. 2, 3. 

The first emotions, in view of such a work, are almost those 
of discouragement. " Does our salvation require such expenditures 
to purchase it ? such preparations to procure it ? Do such mo- 
mentous results depend upon it ? Then how can it ever be se- 
cured ? How is it possible for weak worms like ourselves to at- 
tain it ? Such vast preparations on the part of God must require 



262 



SAVING FAITH. 



equal exertions on our part to meet them, and if so, we are un- 
equal to the task, and must lie down in sorrow !" Such thoughts 
often occur. The idea that such salvation can be obtained with- 
out being merited on our part, is foreign to our minds. Hence 
the first question of every convinced sinner is, What must I do to 
be saved f Hence in proportion to the depth of his views of his 
own wickedness and danger, and of the greatness of this salvation, 
do his anticipations of exertion and sacrifice on his own part in- 
crease. Hence the anxious inquiry, Wherewith shall I come before 
the Lord, and bow myself before the high God f Shall 1 come before him 
with burnt offerings and calves of a year old f Will the Lord be pleased 
with thousands of rams, or ivith ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall 1 
give my first-born for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the 
sin of my soul f, Mich. vi. 6, 7. Hence all the burdensome and 
expensive rites of all heathen actions, and the multiplied and 
painful ceremonies with which they hope to purchase a title to 
eternal life. 

But the God of nature, and the God of grace, is one. In the 
natural world he accomplishes the mightiest works by the sim- 
plest means, and effects the most complicated motions by the ap- 
plication of a single force. It is the same in the economy of 
grace. 

Look up to the heavens and consider the number of the stars. 
Extend your views of their countless hosts, to the widest limits 
of modern astronomy. Each one of those stars is a sun like our 
own, and the centre of a system more or less complicated than 
ours. Each system has its peculiar place and motion, and as far 
as our researches have extended, no two are alike. These all 
combine to form one constantly changing, moving, yet united 
whole. Behold how all these mighty worlds, amidst all their 
revolutions, are held together ! By what means is this effected ? 
What array of machinery can bind together systems so remote 
and so diverse ? How is it possible that confusion should not 
enter in, and mar this glorious scene ? Yet behold here the wis- 
dom and the power of God. The extent of his dominions, and 
the variety of his creations are almost infinite, and yet one law 
pervades and regulates the whole. By one simple principle, he 
binds together the remotest star, and most eccentric comet, and 
regulates alike the falling of an apple or a feather to the ground. 
The mighty, yet simple and unseen principle of gravitation, is the 
bond that holds all these together. 



SAYING FAITH. 



263 



And in the economy of our redemption, it is one principle, 
equally simple and yet powerful, that binds man to his Creator, 
and regulates all his motions, and all his intercourse with him, in 
whom we live, and move, and have our being, and that principle is 
faith. It is unseen, but not the less efficacious, for the just shall 
live by faith, Eom. i. 17. Perplexed and anxious sinner ! Over- 
whelmed with a sense of sin, and fear of the wrath of God — 
alarmed at the power of Satan, and the multitude of your foes — 
astonished at the greatness of the work of your salvation, and 
anxiously inquiring, What must I do to be saved f — What shall 
bring me into friendly relations with God ? — the answer is as 
simple as that which the Philosopher gives, when he is asked 
what binds the universe together — Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and thou shalt be saved, Acts xvi. 31. There is no need to seek 
after difficult and painful methods of salvation. There is no re- 
quirement of impossibilities. The righteousness which is of faith, 
speaketh on this wise. Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into 
heaven ? (that is, to bring Christ down from above ;) or, who shall de- 
scend into the deep f (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 
But ivhat saith it ? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in 
thine heart : that is, the word of faith which we preach : that if thou 
shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine 
heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved, 
Eom. x. 6-9. 

Such is the importance of faith in the plan of our salvation. 
By grace are ye saved through faith. It is the means, it is the in- 
strument by which we lay hold of, and appropriate to ourselves, 
the grace of God, which bringeth salvation. Give me your atten- 
tion then, whilst I endeavor to set before you its nature, and an- 
swer the question, What is saving faith f 

It is important to remark, in the first place, that there are 
several kinds of faith mentioned in the New Testament, but that 
they do not all possess the efficacy to save the soul. 

1. There is a simple historical belief of the truth of the Scrip- 
tures, which is possessed by the great majority of men in Chris- 
tian lands. Those who possess this faith, believe the truth of 
what is in the Scriptures, just as they do the history of Livy, or 
the annals of Tacitus. They are perfectly sure that Jesus Christ 
lived and died, and performed many miracles, just as they are 
that Napoleon lived, and was a great general. This kind of faith 
is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. It has no 



264 



SAVING FAITH. 



particular regard or affection for the truths it believes, and they 
have no practical effect upon the life. It is a faith that can be 
possessed by the bitterest enemies of Grod. Simon Magus saw the 
miracles of Philip, and believed, and wondered, and was even 
baptized. Yet this faith had no saving or sanctifying effect on 
his heart. He still abode in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds 
of iniquity, Acts viii. 23. There is no difference between this 
faith, and that possessed by the spirits of the lost, Thou believest 
there is one God : thou doest well (but the devils do more than this) ; 
the devils also believe and tremble, James ii. 19. Mere speculative 
knowledge and belief like this can never save us. ~No created be- 
ing in the .universe is better acquainted with theology, or has a 
firmer conviction of the truth and importance of religion than 
Satan has. But something more than this is wanted. 

2. There is also a special kind of faith, commonly called the 
faith of miracles, by which those who possessed it were enabled to 
work miracles. This too was not necessarily accompanied with 
saving faith. Balaam possessed it, and uttered true prophecies, 
but died among the wicked. Judas Iscariot possessed it, — but 
died in his sin. Many in the Corinthian Church possessed this 
kind of faith, and abused it to the gratification of their own am- 
bition and vanity ; making a show of their miraculous gifts, and 
seeking applause and power by them. This led the apostle to 
say, Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, 
and all knowledge : and though I have all faith : so that I could re- 
move mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing, 1 Cor. xiii. 2, 
— and Christ says, Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, 
have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name cast out devils f 
and in thy name done many wonderful works f And then will I pro- 
fess unto them, L never knew you, Depart from me, ye that work in- 
iquity, Matt. vii. 22, 23. 

3. There is yet another description of faith, which is not sav- 
ing. It is commonly called temporary faith, from the character of 
those who possess it. They are such as our Saviour compares to 
the stony ground, where the seed falls, and immediately springs 
up, because it has no deepness of earth, but when the sun is up, 
it is scorched and withered away. Even so, they in whose heart 
this temporary faith is found, endure but for a season, for when 
tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by they 
are offended, Matt. xiii. 5, 20. This faith therefore is easily known. 
It may seem very warm and vigorous, when all is pleasant ; but 



SAVING FAITH. 



265 



as soon as difficulties or temptations arise, it is gone. It is not 
saving faith. The just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back 
my soul shall have no pleasure in him, Heb. x. 38. 

4. The kind of faith which alone saves the soul, is that which 
has the Lord Jesus Christ for its special object ; hence it is often 
called the faith of Christ, Phil. iii. 9. " It is a saving grace where- 
by we receive and rest upon Jesus Christ alone for salvation, as he 
is offered to us in the gospel." 

This faith has several characteristics which deserve attention. 

1. It is wrought in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Every- 
thing connected with our salvation comes to us through the 
agency of the Holy Ghost. Naturally we are averse to believe in 
Christ, but the Spirit of Cod opens our hearts to receive the truth, 
and sets the character of Christ before us in its perfection, so that 
we are constrained to submit our souls to him. Hence, among 
the various titles given to the Holy Spirit, is also this, that he is 
the Spirit of faith, 2 Cor. iv. 13. And as this faith is wrought in 
our hearts by him, so it is built on a solid foundation. It does 
not rest on any mere fancies of our own, but on the word of the 
everlasting God. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word 
of God, Eom. x. 17. We are to receive Christ, only as he is of- 
fered to us in the gospel. If therefore your faith is founded on 
anything not there contained, it is unsound. Let this point be 
well attended to, for the opinion so often expressed, " It matters 
not what a man believes, provided he be sincere," is a great error. 
It does matter very much what you believe ; for if you believe 
anything but what the word of God contains, then are yon in 
danger of going down to death with a lie in your right hand. 
It is the word of God alone which effectually worheth in you that be- 
lieve, 1 Thess. ii. 13. The people of God are chosen to salvation 
through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, 2 Thess. ii. 
13, and are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, 
even by the word of God, ivhich liveth and abideth forever, 1 Pet. i. 23. 

2. This faith, wherever it exists, is always accompanied with 
repentance for sin, and a deep sense of one's own utter un worthi- 
ness and helplessness. Hence, when the apostle preached, it was 
of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Acts xx. 21. When the Holy Spirit comes to convince men of 
sin, it is because they believe not in Christ, John xvi. 8, 9. It is 
not possible to believe on Christ heartily, and trust to him alone 
for salvation, as long as we have any confidence in ourselves, or 



266 



SAVING FAITH. 



any expectation of securing God's favor by our own good works. 
Hence, if we would believe on Christ, we must repent of our sins, 
and loathe ourselves on account of them. The question Avhether 
faith preceeds, or follows repentance, is one of little practical con- 
sequence, and should not be started. Both go together, and 
faith without repentance, or repentance without faith, are alike 
foolish and useless. If true repentance exist, it leads to an utter 
renunciation of self, and. of all self-dependence. This cannot be 
illustrated more clearly, than in the experience of the apostle 
Paul, who said that luhat things were gain to him, he counted loss for 
Christ, Phil. iii. 7. 

This renouncing of self, and all self-dependence, leads to the 
main thing in saving faith, and that is, a full conviction of the 
merits of Jesus Christ, and a full reliance upon them, and upon 
them alone, for the pardon of sins, for acceptance with God, and 
for complete salvation. The sinner, cut off from all confidence 
in himself, fully satisfied that he cannot by his own good deeds 
merit God's favor, and equally well satisfied that the grace of 
Christ is abundantly sufficient for him, throws himself upon his 
grace, and trusts to him alone. He makes no terms with Christ, 
but an unconditional surrender. He takes his soul, all guilty and 
polluted as it is, and lays it at the foot of the cross. He says to 
the Saviour, " Behold, oh Lord, one of thine unworthy creatures. 
I am full of sin, and deserve thine everlasting anger. If thou 
wilt, thou canst save me, but if thou wilt not, I perish forever, 
and perish justly. God he merciful to me a sinner" This is the 
last, and highest, and hardest act the convinced sinner is called 
to perform. It is the hardest, because it implies so complete an 
abandonment of all merit, so perfect an abasement before God. 
It is the last, and the highest, because, when it is performed, then 
the sinner is no more a child of wrath, but a child of grace. 
Christ accepts the unconditional offer he makes, — clothes in his 
own righteousness, and he is saved. None ever came to him in 
this way, and were cast out. Heaven and earth shall pass awajr, 
before one sinner shall thus cast himself upon the mercy of God 
in Christ, and be rejected; and heaven, and earth, and time shall 
be no more, before one sinner shall ever be saved in any other 
way. This is the strait gate which leadeth unto life. If you 
clothe yourselves in your own righteousness, and burden your- 
selves with your own good deeds, you cannot enter — the door is 
too narrow. It was thus that Paul came, / count all things hut 



SAVING FAITH. 



267 



loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord : for 
whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but 
dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my 
own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the 
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil, 
iii. 8, 9. 

As already intimated, this unconditional surrender of the soul 
to the mere mercy of God, is the last act of the convinced sinner. 
Beyond this point, he feels that he can advance no farther. He 
has tried every resource within his reach ; if this fails, he is with- 
out hope. Blessed be God, it never fails ; and oh, how wonder- 
ful is the grace which accepts of him at this point ! He has 
sought every possible means of saving himself, without having 
recourse to the grace of Christ ; and it is only when he finds that 
there is absolutely no other means but that grace, that he sub- 
mits to it. Why does not God refuse him then ? Why does he 
not say, " You would not come to me, as long as you had any 
hope of saving yourself. After trying every other means, you 
seek this, not willingly, but as it were by constraint. Of what 
value is such a submission ? Walk in the light of your own fire, 
and in the sparks you have kindled. This shall ye have at my hand • 
ye shall lie down in sorrow," Is. 1. 11. I say, why does not God 
thus reprove and reject the half-despairing sinner ? Sometimes 
it almost seems as though he were thus acting. The convinced 
soul lies before him long, and seems to experience no tokens of 
his favor. Fears distract his heart. Anxious questions arise 
and perplex him. Will the Lord cast off forever, and will he be 
favorable no more ? Is his mercy clean gone forever, and doth his 
promise fail for evermore f Hath God forgotten to be gracious f 
Hath he, in anger, shut up his tender mercies f Ps. lxxvii. 7-8. 
But though such fears arise, he has no other hope. To whom 
else can he go? — for here alone are the words of eternal life. 
Therefore, he renewedly determines to seek salvation only in the 
cross of Christ. In the words of the hymn, his heart says : — 

" If I perish, I will pray, 
And perish only there. 
I can but perish if I go, 
I am resolved to try. 
For if I stay away, I know 
I must forever die." 



268 



SAVING FAITH. 



In the words of the patriarch of old, he sajs of God, Though 
he slay me, I will trust in him, Job xiii. 15. And in all ordinary 
cases he is not left long in suspense. In all such cases he is 
accepted, and sooner or later his faith is rewarded by sensible 
communications of the favor of God. Oftentimes his heart is 
overwhelmed with a sudden revelation of the love of Christ, and 
the penitential confession of sin, and supplication for mercy, is 
interrupted by the thanksgiving that bursts forth from a heart 
full of the grace and love of God. Yerily Christ is able to save 
unto the uttermost, and none of those, no not one of those who 
come unto the Father by him, shall be cast out. 

I have dwelt the more minutely on this point because it seems 
to be the turning point in Christian faith and experience. The 
other characteristics of saving faith require less detail. 

4. Saving faith takes the word of God as its standard and rule 
in all cases. It believes all that he says, and simply because he 
says it. It does not ask, How can these things be ? but is satis- 
fied with Thus saith the Lord. It is differently affected according 
as different passages of the word of God are presented to it. Does 
it read his commands ? then it seeks to obey, and perform all his 
commandments. Are his threatenings held up ? It trembles and 
flees for shelter to the cross. Are the promises presented ? It 
embraces them with joy. So too in all his providential dealings. 
Does he make the path of duty clear, then it goes forward with 
unfaltering step, though the pillar of cloud, and the guiding fire, 
lead it through the sea, or into the pathless wilderness. If no 
clear direction is given, it either seeks to know his will, or it 
quietly waits till his will be made known, as* the Israelites in the 
wilderness, who journeyed not unless the cloud were taken up from 
the tabernacle. Is his way in the clouds and darkness, or in the 
deep waters ? Faith submits to him. Does he send sore afflic- 
tions? It says, Behold the hand of the Lord! He giveth and he 
taheth away, blessed be his holy name. Is he harassed by doubts, 
and fears, and temptations ? Still he waits upon the Lord, and 
seeks no unlawful means of deliverance. " This faith is different 
in degrees, weak and strong : it is often and many ways assailed 
and weakened, but it gets the victory : growing up in many 
(though not in all) to the attainment of a full assurance through 
Christ, who is both the author, and the finisher of our faith," 
Confession of Faith, xiv. 

Such is the faith by which we are saved. It is of chief neces- 



SAVING FAITH. 



269 



sity, for it is the hand that lays hold of, and applies the merits of 
Christ, and without it, Christ is dead in vain. 

Now in all this there is nothing for us to boast of. You have 
already seen the grace of God in providing salvation and offering 
it to us. The only thing we have to do in all this matter is to 
accept of the free gift that is held out to us. Is this a meritorious 
act ? When you offer a beggar a piece of money, do you praise 
him because he puts out his hand and takes it? "When you 
throw out a plank for a drowning man, do you think he performs 
a meritorious act by laying hold, and resting on it ? No more 
then are we entitled to praise, or worthy of reward, by believing 
on Christ. Nay, more, the very faith by which we believe is not 
our own, By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of your- 
selves, it is the gift of God. 

Thus is our whole salvation entirely of grace. From its first 
beginning in the secret counsels of God, through all the wonder- 
ful displays of wisdom and love by which it was acquired ; in all 
the places whereby it is made known and applied to us ; and in 
the faith by which we receive it, and by which we are led along to 
the inheritance of glory reserved for the saints — it is all of grace. 

There are two practical questions of the greatest moment, with 
the answers to which this subject will be closed. 

1. Since faith is the gift of God, how are we to obtain it? 
The question is simple, and the answer is equally so. Faith 
cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Eom. x. 17. 
You have the word of God, it is your duty to read it. You can 
attend on the ordinances of God's house, it is your duty to do so, 
and the truths you thus learn are those which it is necessary to 
believe. If you find yourselves unable to believe, the remedy is 
plain. The disciples in old times found the same difficulty, and 
they came to Christ and prayed, Lord increase our faith, Luke 
xvii. 5. That prayer you too can offer, and if offered in sincerity 
it will be heard and answered, for it is one of those things which 
are included in the unconditional promise of the Holy Spirit. It 
is his work, to implant this faith in the heart, and you have but 
to ask, and it shall be implanted there. Say not, therefore, Faith 
is God's gift, and as he has not given it to me, I am not required 
to believe. Faith is God's gift, and if he has not given it to you* 
it is because you would not have it. That you do not believe is 
your own fault, and not that of your Creator, for he is ready to 
bestow this gift upon you the moment you desire it. He knows 



270 



SAvnsra faith. 



what you have need of before you ask. Matt. vi. 8, and it shall come 
to pass that while you call he will answer: and while you are yet 
speaking, he will hear, Is. lxv. 24. You are therefore utterly 
without excuse if you do not believe. 

2. The second question is, What is the connection between 
faith and good works ? Men are ever prone to ask ; What is the 
need of good works if we are justified by grace alone ? Should 
we not rather continue in sin that grace may abound? Good 
works cannot save us, therefore they are useless and needless. It 
is difficult to answer such objections; their absurdity, and the 
ignorance they display, are so preposterous, and yet so pitiable. 
Those who make them are totally ignorant of the nature of faith. 
The connection between faith and good works is as intimate and 
indissoluble as between life and breathing. Did you ever see a 
living man without breath ? Neither have you ever seen faith with- 
out good works. It is the very nature of faith that it produces good 
works, and if it does not produce good works, then it is not faith. 
Faith works by love and purifies the heart, Acts xv. 9. Show me 
thy faith without thy works. This you cannot do, for there is no 
such faith, or rather that is the mere historical faith already 
described and shown to be useless. But says the apostle, I wiU 
show thee my faith by my works. As the body without the spirit is 
dead, so faith without works is dead also, James ii. 18, 26. 

This then is the connection between faith and works— faith 
produces works. This is a complete refutation of the objection 
just referred to, that if we are justified by faith alone works are 
needless. It cannot be too often repeated, that we are justified by 
faith without the deeds of the law; but neither can it be too care- 
fully borne in mind that this justifying faith is such that its very 
nature is to produce good works, and if it does not produce them 
then it is not true faith, and you are not justified at all. 

By this plan, therefore, of freely justifying man, the grace of 
(rod is most highly exalted, and yet the sanctification of the sin- 
ner, and the performance of every good work by him, are most 
effectually secured. By grace are ye saved through faith ; and that 
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of ivorks lest any man 
should boast, for ive are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus 
unto good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk 
in them, Eph. ii. 8-10. 

Macao. Sept. 8, 1844. 



SERMON XXXI. 

THE GRACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



My grace is sufficient for thee. — 2 Cor. xii. 9. 

After our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no one person who is 
so prominently held up in the Scriptures as the example for 
Christians to imitate, as the apostle Paul. "We are to be followers 
of him, as he ivas of Christ, 1 Cor. xi. 1. His experience is in 
many places recorded as that which all Christians have, Eom. 
vii., and the promises made to him are left for our consolation. 

At one period in his life, he was favored with astonishing 
revelations of the grace of Grod ; but they were intended only for 
himself. It was neither lawful nor possible for him to declare 
them ; and such was his modesty, that fourteen years seem to 
have passed away, before he spake of them to any human being. 
Yet withal, these revelations were followed by peculiar tempta- 
tions. Satan made use of them to puff him up with pride ; and 
the Lord saw it necessary to send some sore affliction, lest he 
should he exalted above measure, 2 Cor. xii. 7. What this affliction 
was, does not appear. Evidently enough, it was some bodily dis- 
tress or blemish, joined, most probably, to mental suffering, and 
altogether so severe, that the apostle earnestly desired to be freed 
from it. In imitation, perhaps, of our Lord's thrice offered 
prayer in the garden of Grethsemane, he besought the Lord thrice, 
that it might depart from him. His prayer was heard, but his 
request was not granted. He had asked for a thing which his 
compassionate Master saw was not for his own good, and the very 
favor he bore toward his servant, required him to continue the 
stroke at which he grieved. This should not be called a strange 
way of showing kindness ; for it is precisely the course a judicious 
and affectionate earthly parent pursues towards a wandering 
child. One reason the apostle seems to have had, why he wished 



272 



THE GKACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



the thorn in the flesh to be removed, was his fear lest it should 
unfit him for labor, or injure his usefulness in the ministry. But 
though his request was refused, his fears on this point were 
quieted. He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my 
strength is made perfect in weakness ; and the effect of this promise 
on the apostle's mind, was instantaneous. It removed every 
fear ; his heart bowed in sweet submission to the will of his 
Lord ; and he ceased to regret that which caused him so much 
pain. Most gladly will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the 
'power of Christ may rest upon me ; therefore, I take pleasure in 
infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, 
for Christ's sake ; for when I am weak, then am I strong. It may 
be remarked here, incidentally, that we have, in this part of the 
apostle's history, a good example of the nature and benefits of 
believing prayer ; and of the nature of the answer we may expect, 
even when we do not pray for things that are strictly according 
to God's will. That the apostle prayed in faith, can scarcely be 
doubted ; that he prayed earnestly, is evident ; yet he did not 
receive what he requested, for it was neither for God's glory, nor 
his own good to grant it. But he obtained other blessings, more 
valuable than what he asked, even the grace of Christ, which 
not only sustained him under his trial, but turned it into a posi- 
tive blessing to him. His own heart, while he prayed, was sub- 
missive to God ; and when he found that his petition was not 
acceptable, he not only yielded to the will of God, but rejoiced 
in it, though contrary to what he had himself desired. Such a 
spirit in prayer will, in all cases, draw down blessings on the 
head of him who prays. 

But our chief concern now is with the answer of our Lord to 
the petition of his servant. My grace is sufficient for thee. This 
was a special promise to the apostle ; but there seems to be no 
good reason why it may not be lawfully applied to all those who 
are followers of him, as he was of Christ. He had great trials 
and temptations to bear, and arduous duties to perform, and the 
grace which was sufficient for him, must be equally efficacious for 
all who tread in his footsteps. 

By the grace of God, in this promise, we are to understand, 
not so much the free favor of God, which is commonly signified 
by it, as one of the effects which flow to us from that favor. The 
grace of God, is here put for the assistance and supporting influences 
of the Holy Spirit, which are given to all God's people in conse- 



THE GKACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



273 



quence of his free grace, and form the firm and unfailing founda- 
tion on which they rest. Now of this grace it is emphatically 
said, It is sufficient. It matters not what the occasion be, for 
which it is needed, it is sufficient. Though the wise virgins had 
oil enough for themselves, what they had was not sufficient to 
supply their foolish neighbors, Matt. xxv. 9 ; but the grace of 
Christ is sufficient for all. The disciples, when asked in the wil- 
derness to feed five thousand men, said that two hundred penny- 
worth of bread was not sufficient for them, that every one might 
take even a little ; but the grace and power of Christ, made five 
barley-loaves and two small fishes more than sufficient for the 
whole multitude, John vi. 7-13. When God told Moses in the 
desert that he would feed the whole company of Israel with flesh, 
and that not for one or two days merely, but for a whole month, 
the faith of even that eminent man of Grod was staggered, and he 
asked, Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them to suffice them f 
or shall the fish of the sea be gathered together for them to suffice them? 
Numb. xi. 22. But the hand of the Lord had not waxed short, 
and his word was sufficient to accomplish what even Moses 
deemed well nigh impossible. So it is with the grace of Christ. 
It is sufficient for us, no matter what the circumstances are in 
which we may be placed ; and a consideration of some of those 
circumstances, and the grace of Christ as sufficient for them, may 
be of service to us in our heavenward course. 

I. In the first place, then, the grace of Christ is sufficient for 
us in the performance of every duty. The present state of existence 
is one in which we have many duties to perform. This world is 
not our rest, it is our place of labor. The duties to which we are 
called ought to be a delight, a source of constant pleasure to the 
soul, but it is often far otherwise. Owing to our own native cor- 
ruption and weakness, our duties are hard to perform. They 
oftentimes require labor, self-denial, patient watching, painful 
sacrifices. They run counter to the natural tendencies of our 
souls ; we climb the Hill of Difficulty with laborious efforts ; we 
descend into the Yalley of Humiliation with reluctance. To pro- 
fess to be on the Lord's side, and in so doing to meet with the 
opposition, and with the secret, or, it may be, the open contempt 
of men for so doing — to give up all we hold dear for Christ — to 
go for his sake to foreign lands — to lay down life itself, if need 
be, rather than deny his name — are duties to the performance of 
which every Christian is solemnly pledged. But I am far from 

18 



274 



THE GRACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



thinking these to be the most difficult and painful duties he is 
called to perform. There is a spirit in man which will nerve 
him for the performance of extraordinary efforts occasionally, 
but will prove quite insufficient when tasked with the constant 
recurrence of ordinary exertion ; and many who could brave the 
martyr's death, would fail in the humbler walks of Christian life. 
To persevere in the service of God for years ; to maintain a con- 
sistent course of conduct ; to continue instant in prayer ; to resist 
the daily temptations of a Christian life to mortify every sin ; 
to cultivate every grace ; and to honor God by a holy life ; — these 
are far more important and far more difficult parts of our duty, 
than to cross oceans, perform splendid acts of self-denial, and to 
lay down life itself as a public sacrifice on the altar of religion. 
It is a comparatively easy thing to exercise those splendid virtues 
which are seen of men, and admired even by those who cannot 
appreciate the motives which induce them, but there is a more 
excellent, and a more difficult way than this. The charity that 
suffereth long, and is kind ; the charity that envieth not ; the 
charity that vaunteth not itself, and is not puffed up, is of far 
more worth in the sight of God, than gifts of prophecy, and pro- 
foundness of kDOwledge, than faith that removes mountains, and 
ostentatious benevolence to the poor, or even giving the body to 
be burned, 1 Cor. xiii. 

Now all these duties, both those that are public, and those 
performed in God's presence alone, are for us hard to be done. 
To the angels, to the glorified spirits in heaven, they are easy ; 
but we are compassed about with infirmities ; we are held back 
by a nature averse to all such exercises ; and we are opposed both 
by an unfriendly world, and a host of evil spirits. These are the 
things which render it difficult for us to perform our duties. How 
shall creatures so weak as we perform so many ? How shall we 
persevere, day after day and year after year, in the face of so 
many obstacles ? Were it not better that we should die as soon 
as we become united to Christ, that so our salvation may be se- 
cured without this long and painful course of training, in which 
there is so much danger of our failure ? No, Christian friends ! 
The promise of our Lord comes to our relief. My grace is suffi- 
cient for thee : for my strength is made perfect in zueakness. Nor is 
this a solitary promise. It is one that runs like a line of light 
throughout the Scriptures. It matters not how weak we are in 
ourselves; strength for the performance of duty comes from 



THE GRACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



275 



above. The Lord (rod helps the worm Jacob, For I the Lord thy 
God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, I will keep 
thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel ; I will help 
thee, saitli the Lord a nd thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, Is. xli. 
13, 14. It is he that gives us strength, and that strength shall be 
more than sufficient, even where the most vigorous natural powers 
would fail. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no 
might he increo.seth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be 
tveary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that ivodt upon 
the Lord shall renew their strength : they shall mount up with wings 
as eagles: they shcdl run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and 
not faint, Is. xl. 29-31 ; xxv. 3, 4. Thus through his grace, we 
not only persevere, but are assured of a glorious termination to 
all our course of duty. 

This strength is given us through the influences of the Holy 
Spirit. Hence it was the apostle's prayer for the Ephesians — as 
it should be the prayer of each of us for ourselves — that God 
would grant us, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened 
with might by his Spirit in the inner man, Eph. iii. 16. 

For our encouragement in duty, numerous instances are re- 
corded in the Holy Scriptures, where through the grace of God, 
even those who were weak were enabled to perform duty aright. 
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, God has often perfected 
praise, Ps. viii. 2. Even children in him are strong, for he called 
Jeremiah, when but a child, and made him a defenced city, an 
iron pillar, and brazen ivalls against a ichole land, with its kings and 
princes, its priests and people, ivho in their wickedness fought against 
him, Jer. i. 5, 6, 18, 19. It enabled Moses, though slow of speech, 
and of a slow tongue, to stand before Pharaoh and his counsel- 
lors, and plead the cause of God's oppressed people. God never 
calls any man to perform duty for him, without also offering him 
the grace needful for the performance of that duty. Behold what 
grace did for those who had faith in God ! They subdued king- 
doms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths 
of lions, quenched the violence of fire, out of weakness ivere made 
strong, and ivaxed valiant in fight, Heb. xi. 33. But why multiply 
examples, when the apostle Paul stands before us as a living 
witness of the sufficiency of God's grace. None felt his own 
weakness more deeply than he. None had duties more arduous 
to perform than he. Hear then his triumphant declaration, lean 
do all things through Christ which strengthened me, Phil. iv. 13; 



276 



THE GRACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



and let none be discouraged, when so bright an example as his is 
held up for our imitation. He was a man like ourselves. It was 
not his own strength that made him so eminent as a Christian, 
for he delighted to say, By the grace of God, I am what I am, 
1 Cor. xv. 10 ; and that grace does not grow old, or become weak 
through the lapse of ages ; the grace that made him what he was, 
can make us the same. 

Here then is our encouragement. Fear not, my Christian 
friends, when called upon to perform any duty. He who calls 
you to its performance will give you the strength you need. Our 
sufficiency is of God, 2 Cor. iii. 5, 6, and therefore we have hope. 
Look riot at your own wickedness. Do not excuse yourselves 
when God calls you, for w r ant of strength. Nay, the very sense 
of weakness will increase your strength, for while it will lead 
you to rely less on yourselves, where there is no strength, it will 
teach you to place your dependence on God who has all strength. 
This is the meaning of that apparent paradox of Paul's, When 1 
am weak, then am I strong, 2 Cor. xii. 10. With this strength for 
your support you shall perform every duty. The reproaches of 
the world, the opposition of friends, the weakness of your own 
heart, and the strength of sin, and of Satan's temptations, shall 
not prevent you from performing the duties that belong to your 
Christian course. Greater is he that is for us, than all they that 
be against us, therefore be strong and hope unto the end. 

II. The grace of Christ is also sufficient for us in all times of 
temptation. That every Christian is tempted by Satan to sin 
against God requires no proof. There are those who deny that 
evil angels have any such influence over us, but they are not found 
among those who believe the Bible to be the word of God. That 
Satan can force us to sin I do not believe. It is even our own 
fault if we yield to his temptations ; but all Christians have their 
weak points, and unguarded hours, and he whose malice and 
boldness induced him to tempt even the Lord Jesus, is not averse 
to tempt every one of his followers. He knows little of his own 
heart and little of the depths of Satan, who does not know what 
temptations are; and he who has known them, will often and 
earnestly pray, Lead me not into temptation. 

All the wiles of our great enemy, the wicked one, would have 
little power if they were not seconded by the evil that dwells in its 
— but joined with that they ofttimes make fearful havoc in the 
Christian's soul. Even the confirmed believer may be led into 



THE GRACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 



277 



sin. The exhortation is, Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the 
devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, 
1 Pet. v. 8. Your own experience must have already assured 
you that there is no place and no time when you are secured 
from his assaults. Have you not found evil suggestions thrown 
into your mind, when you bowed the knee in private prayer to 
God ? Have you not found your hearts led out after vanities 
unto the ends of the earth, even when you came to the sanctuary 
to worship your Creator ? Have you not found that even when 
most bent to do good, evil was present with you, and an evil, 
too, urged on, and fixed in your mind almost as by an influence 
from without ? These temptations are as diversified as the vary- 
ing dispositions of every man. Satan is well acquainted with 
the human heart, its affections, passions, and infirmities, and has 
an allurement, a charm, a threatening, for each. Some he tempts 
to despair, even of the free and boundless grace of God, and 
would have them to think their sins unpardonable. Some he 
tempts to presume, as though the Spirit of God could never be 
grieved, and thus while he leads one to vain confidence and false 
security, he plunges another in the depths of despair. He takes 
the dearest objects of our affections, and causes our hearts to rest 
upon them with an idolatrous love, thus setting up household 
gods, where the heart's best affection should be given to our Cre- 
ator. Some he tempts to seek for pleasure and ease, avoiding 
the dangers, discomforts, and self-denials of a conscientious per- 
formance of duty. Some he tempts to sell their Lord, for the 
delights of this world. Where he cannot by his devices draw 
away the Christian from the path of duty, he endeavors to harass 
his mind with doubts and fears. If he cannot induce him to lie 
down and fold his hands in idleness, he tempts him to labor be- 
yond his strength, and goads him with reproaches for inaction and 
uselessness. But it would be an endless task to enumerate all his 
devices, whereby he gains advantage of us. (2 Cor. ii. 11.) Be not 
ignorant of them, and in the time of temptation, remember where 
your strength lies. It is our joy, that we have an high priest, who 
can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Even he was 
tempted in all points, like as we are, Heb. iv. 15. In that he him- 
self hath suffered being tempted, lie is able to succor them that are 
tempted, Heb. ii. 18. He says to every tempted and perplexed be- 
liever, My grace is sufficient for thee. It often seems to the Christian, 
as though none had ever experienced the same temptations, and he 



278 THE GKACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 

feels as though he could not escape from them ; but in both these 
points, you are probably mistaken. God watches all your danger, 
There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common toman; 
and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that 
ye are able, but will with the temptation make a way to escape, that 
ye may be able to bear it, 1 Cor. x. 13. The Christian ofttimes 
hardly knows how his spiritual life is to be sustained, amidst so 
many assaults from his great foe, but God in his wisdom and grace 
can easily do it. He secretly casts in the oil of his grace, so that 
the flame burns hotter, notwithstanding the water that is cast 
upon it. Therefore in all times of temptation, look up to God 
for strength, and in dependence on that strength, resist the devil, 
and he will flee from you, James iv. 7. Take above all things 
else, the shield of faith, ivhereby you will be able to quench all the fiery 
darts of the ivicked one, Eph. vi. 16. If you feel your strength 
give way beneath the power of the tempter, cry mightily unto 
God, and soon you shall say to your confident and exulting ad- 
versary, Rejoice not against me, oh mine enemy. When I fall, I shall 
arise again, Mic. vii. 8. 

III. Finally, the grace of Christ is sufficient for the support of 
every believer in all times of sorrow and distress, whether bodily 
or mental. Sorrows are the portion of our race. I am not one 
of those who look on this world as a vale of tears alone, for it has 
abundant stores of joy ; and there are few whose happiness would 
not be much greater than it is, were they to seek it in the proper 
course. Yet still it is true, Man that is born of a woman is of few 
days, and full of trouble, Job xiv. 1. To enter into particulars 
in proof of this is needless. You have but to recall the histories 
of your own acquaintances, and the scenes of your own past lives, 
and very few of you will deny that 

A sad inheritance is ours. 

The Christian whose heart is rightly exercised, will acknowledge 
that all his sorrows come from a Father's hand, and are sent for 
his good ; and yet even he will find them hard to bear, for in the 
truthful language of the apostle, No chastening for the present seem- 
eth to be joyous, but grievous, Heb. xii. 11. Oftentimes too, God 
is pleased to visit his children with repeated affliction. Sorrow 
after sorrow comes upon them. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise 
of his waterspouts, all his waves and billoius go over them, Ps. xlii. 7 ; 
and their soul is melted in them for heaviness. If the Christian 



THE GEACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 279 

were left to himself, to bear by the unaided fortitude of his own 
spirit the distresses that ofttimes come upon him, he would soon 
sink beneath the load. But he is not left to himself. A voice 
comes to him in the depths of his sorrow, saying, My grace is suf- 
ficient for thee. When distresses are most numerous, it says to him, 
When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through 
the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou walkest through the 
fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame hindle upon thee, 
Is. xliii. 2 ; and his own experience furnishes the most eloquent 
commentary to the promise. Have you not often found his 
grace supporting you in affliction ? A dark cloud arose in your 
horizon, and you gazed upon its gloomy outline with anxious 
forebodings. It drew nearer, and filled your heart with dread. 
You feared as you entered the cloud, and yet when it passed 
away, you were refreshed with its gentle rain, and gazed even 
with delight upon the rainbow which remained. Has it not been 
so ? You have shrunk from the trial that has hung over you. 
You have thought yon could not endure it — you have prayed 
that if possible it might pass from you, and yet when it came, 
though you felt it deeply, you have been sustained and upheld in 
a manner that you could not have thought possible ; and though 
for the time it was grievous, yet you have found it followed by 
the peaceable fruits of righteousness. And is not the grace that 
was sufficient for you in times past equally powerful for the time 
to come ? Do not dishonor God by your fears, but come boldly to 
the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help 
in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. 

It may be that you fear death ; that though you can look on 
other trials with composure, yet you apprehend that when your 
last hour shall come, you shall not be able to endure. But why 
should you fear ? Hath he not said, I will never leave thee nor for- 
sake thee, Heb. xiii. 5. Hath not your compassionate Saviour 
himself passed through the gates of death, and slept in the grave, 
and will he not be with you there ? Then fear not. His grace 
has caused others to go through the dark valley of the shadow 
of death with peace and with joy ; and putting your trust in him, 
his grace shall be sufficient for you, even in that trying hour. 
Though flesh and heart fail, yet God shall be the strength of your heart 
and your portion forever, Ps. lxxii. 26. 

How glorious are the promises of God to those who put their 
trust in him ! Some are minute and particular, as when he is 



l 



280 THE GRACE OF GOD SUFFICIENT. 

told that the very hairs of his head are all numbered ; but others 
are wide and comprehensive, even as the grace of God itself. 
Such is the promise we have been considering. Its tones fall 
upon the Christian ear, making sweet melody there, and if he will, 
he may hear it when the tempest roars, as well as when the eve- 
ning airs are gently breathing. He may hear it and rejoice in it, 
when Satan's temptations come like a fiery blast upon his soul ; 
he may draw consolation from it, when he wanders alone in the 
wilderness; when friends all die, and cherished hopes all fail, 
and earthly resources are all cut off, the promise remains as firm 
as the throne of God himself. He abideth faithful, he cannot 
deny himself, and he saith, My grace is sufficient for thee. It is 
a compend of that glorious promise given to Israel of old by the 
hand of Moses. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass : and as thy days, 
so shall thy strength be. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, 
who rideth upon the heavens in thy help, and in his excellency on the 
shy. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlast- 
ing arms, and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall 
say, Destroy them, Deut. xxxiii. 25-27. 

The joy with which the ministers of God proclaim these 
precious and soul-sustaining promises is great, and yet it is 
one not unmingled with sadness. They are not for all. The 
unbelieving, the careless, the worldly-minded, have no part 
or lot in this matter. The grace that is sufficient for others, is 
not sufficient for you, for you receive the news of it with uncon- 
cern. Of what avail is it to you that such grace is offered ? 

I beseech you, my hearers, let none take comfort in this 
promise, except those that have a right to it. It is intended only 
for the humble believer in Christ, who feels his need of his 
grace, and earnestly desires to obtain it. For all such it is suffi- 
cient. 

Macao, September 29, 1844. 



S E R M K 



XXXII. 



CONNECTION OF DIVINE AGENCY WITH HUMAN EFFORTS. 

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but 
now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trem- 
bling ; for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good 
pleasure. — Phil, ii 12. 13. 

The intercourse between the apostle Paul and the church at 
Philippi seems to have been ahvays of the most affectionate kind. 
Many things conspired to make him regard them with peculiar 
interest. It was in this city that he first preached the gospel to a 
European audience. It was here that he received the first fruits 
promised to him, when he saw in vision the man of Macedonia 
imploring his help. It was here that Lydia lived, whose heart 
the Lord opened that she attended to the things which, were spo- 
ken by Paul, Acts xvi. 14. It was here too, that being imprison- 
ed and beaten and confined in the inner prison with their feet fast 
in the stocks, the love and grace of God so filled the hearts of 
Paul and Silas, that at midnight they prayed and sang praises. 
The astonished jailer acknowledged the power of the religion they 
preached. And when they departed from the city they were fol- 
lowed bv the affectionate regards of the brethren, and were often 
cheered by their kind remembrances. When Paul was in Thes- 
salonica, the church at Philippi sent once and again to supply his 
necessities ; and they alone of all the churches of Macedonia commu- 
nicated with him as concerning giving and receiving, Phil. iv. 15, 16. 
They were attentive to his instructions while present with them, 
and obedient when he was absent. Therefore in this epistle his 
affection for them is very plainly shown, and he styles them his 
brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, his joy and his crown, iv. 1. 

In the text he exhorts them to continued obedience to the gos- 
pel, and to a holy life. He had just before described the deep 



282 



CONNECTION OF DIVINE AGENCY 



humility and exemplary obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
humbled himself and became obedient unto death, v. 8, and had pro- 
posed him as the example and pattern for their imitation, chap, 
ii. 5-8. It was a great work they had to do, to secure their sal- 
vation, and without taking upon them the yoke of Christ, and 
learning of him, who was meek and lowly in mind, Matt. xi. 29, 
they could not do it. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always 
obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 
ivork out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 

Let us attend to this exhortation of the apostle. There are 
some men who think that because salvation is by grace, their 
works are useless, and that since it is given us without merits on 
our part, it is also given without efforts. This is a very convenient 
excuse for the sluggard, and the fatalist ; but it is surely a very 
great mistake, and it is a mistake too, proceeding from an igno- 
rance of the Scriptures truly wonderful. You cannot open a page 
of the Bible without seeing the contrary, and repeated and en- 
forced in so many ways, that even the most careless could scarce 
fail of seeing it. No part of the Scriptures encourage the idea 
that heaven can be gained by mere blind fate, or chance. On the 
contrary our Lord tells us in strong language, that the kingdom 
of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force, Matt. xi. 12, 
and both in the Old and in the New Testament, the great benefit 
and the absolute necessity of exertion on our part is clearly set 
forth. Thus we are told in the Proverbs of Solomon, that the 
labor of the righteous tendeth to life, Pro v. x. 16, while both in natu- 
ral and in spiritual things it is true that poverty and want come 
upon the slothful and inactive. 

Some men are apt to busy themselves with curious questions ; 
asking about the decrees and purposes of God ; the probable 
number of those who shall be saved, and other things which are 
of no manner of importance ; quite forgetting that it is our place 
to do the open and revealed will of God, and not to meddle too 
curiously in things which he has reserved to his own power. 
When the disciples came to Christ with one of these questions, he 
declined giving them a direct answer. One said unto him, Lord, 
are there few that be saved f And he said unto them, Strive to enter in 
at the strait gate, for many I say unto you will seek to enter in, and 
shall not be able, Luke xiii. 23, 24. As if he had said, " Do not trouble 
yourselves with useless inquiries about the condition of others, 
Make your own calling and election sure." 



WITH HUMAN EFFORTS. 



283 



None preached more clearly than the apostle Paul, the doc- 
trine of salvation by free grace without human merit ; and yet 
none insisted more strenuously than he on the necessity of works 
on man's part. To hear his exhortations, and mark his example, 
you would suppose he thought our whole salvation depended on 
ourselves. Hear him saying to the Corinthians, My beloved breth- 
ren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the 
Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord, 
1 Cor. xv. 58. Hear him saying to the Hebrews, Let us labor to 
enter into the rest, Heb. iv. 11, and again, We desire that every one 
of you do show the same diligeyice, unto th e f all assurance of hope unto 
the end, Heb. vi. 11. His own example is full of instruction on 
this point. He was assured of his own salvation, yet he did not 
on that account intermit or relax his exertions. On the contrary 
in this very epistle he describes himself, as using every effort, as 
reaching forth unto those things that are before, and pressing toward 
the mark for the prize of his high calling, Phil. hi. 13, 14. No man 
who takes the apostle Paul for his model, will ever sit idly down 
or dream of being carried to heaven 

" On flowery beds of ease." 

Hence all his comparisons by which he illustrates the Christian 
life, teach the necessity of exertion on our part ; as he walked on 
foot from city to city, he saw the husbandmen pursuing their avo- 
cations, and reaping in their harvest. Seizing the idea, he ex- 
horts the Galatians, not to be weary in well doing, for in due season, 
we shall reap if we faint not, Gal. vi. 7-9. As he preached in 
the cities of Greece, he had frequent opportunities of beholding 
the foot-races, and athletic contests of the Olympic, and other 
games ; and the strenuous exertions of these contestors, furnishes 
one of his most frequent and forcible comparisons. He exhorts 
the Hebrews to run with patience the race set before them, Heb. xii. 
1, and to the Corinthians, who were especially familiar with such 
games, he says, Know ye not, that they which run in a race, run cdl 
but one receiveth the prize ? So run thai ye may obtain. And every 
man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they 
do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. L there- 
fore do run not as uncertainly. So fight I not as one that beateth the 
air, 1 Cor. ix. 24-26. And when he would cheer the disciples 7 
hearts it is not by saying that they had no work to do, but that 
their work when done should meet an abundant reward. To the 



284 



CONNECTION OF DIVINE AGENCY. 



Eomans he said, that those who patiently continued in well-doing, 
should obtain eternal life, Eom. ii. 7, and to the Hebrews, that God 
would not forget their ivork and labor of love, Heb. vi. 10. 

It were an easy thing to multiply similar quotations, but suf- 
ficient has been adduced to show, that in the business of our salva- 
tion we must work. These are plain truths, too plain to be mis- 
taken or evaded, nor can they be altered or interpreted differently 
by comparing with them any other part of God's truths. His 
revelations are like himself, consistent, and what he has elsewhere 
declared of his secret purposes, must be understood in a manner 
perfectly consistent with the duty here so plainly enjoined. 

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. It is a 
great work to secure our salvation. It is great in itself, for its 
effects concern our highest well-being, and its results stretch out 
into the distant depths of eternity. It is great too, because it has 
to be prosecuted amidst much opposition and difficulty. In this 
work, much depends upon ourselves, and there is the strongest 
call for much watchfulness, and even solicitude in regard to the 
result. It is with fear and trembling, with watchfulness and 
prayer, that we must enter into the kingdom of God. You can- 
not sit down and fold your hands if you wish to be saved. You 
cannot be an unconcerned spectator, but must yourself take an 
active, yea, a prominent part, in the contest, that shall decide 
your own soul's eternal weal and woe. And such a contest can- 
not be without fear and trembling. 

The true believer is one who fears always. He fears God for 
his greatness, and glory, and holiness ; he fears the spirits of evil, 
for their malice and cunning and varied wiles ; he fears himself, 
for he knows the deep sinfulness and deceitfulness of his own 
heart ; he fears the world, for he knows by painful experience its 
many allurements and seducing wiles ; and when he contemplates 
his own salvation, the magnitude of the interests involved, and 
the danger of failure, he cannot but fear. Happy is the man who 
feareth always, Prov. xxviii. 14. 

Yet this fear and trembling, it should be observed, does not 
imply any want of faith in God, nor the absence of peace and joy 
in the heart. It is perfectly compatible with joy in God. We 
are commanded to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with 
trembling, Ps. ii. 11. The purest joy, and the fullest confidence 
may fill the believer's heart, when his flesh trembles for fear of God, 
Ps. cxix. 120. This may sound paradoxical, but it is Christian 



"WITH HUMAN EFFORTS. 



285 



experience notwithstanding. When the angel informed the 
women at the sepulchre, of the resurrection of Christ, two emo- 
tions filled their hearts, And they departed quickly from the sepulchre, 
with fear and great joy, and did run to bring the disciples word, Matt, 
xxviii. 8. This fear is perfectly compatible even with the assur- 
ance of salvation. Hence the apostle s&ys, Wherefore we receiving 
a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby icq may 
serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. For our God is 
a consuming fire, Heb. xii. 28, 29. (Compare 1 Cor. ii. 3.) 

The work of our salvation is a very great work. Great in 
itself, for it is nothing less than life from the dead ; great in its 
connection with others, for it enlists the sympathies of three 
worlds, 

" Hell moves beneath to work our death. 
Heaven stoops to give us life." 

Great too in its wide-spread and unending results. Who then 
is sufficient for these things ? Is it not mockery in the apostle 
to exhort us to work out our own salvation ? for what can crea- 
tures, so utterly without strength, as we, perform? 

But that which we cannot do God does. In due time when ice 
were yet without strength Christ died for the ungodly, Eom. v. 6 ; and 
when we were dead in trespasses and sins, he quickened its by his 
grace, Eph. ii. 5. * 

It is difficult for us to define the limits where human agency 
ceases and God's power commences. But to do so is a matter of 
no consequence ; in practical experience all is plain enough; and 
hence the apostle, immediately after exhorting the Philippians to 
work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, adds, as 
the reason why they should do so, For it is God who worketh in 
you, both to will and to do. As if he had said, Work with all your 
powers, use all diligence, and be assured of success, for God will 
give you strength. A parallel case to this, is found in the man 
with the withered hand whom Jesus cured. Our Lord said to 
the man, Stretch forth thy hand. The man had no strength, he 
could not of himself stretch forth his hand, for it hung withered 
and dead by his side. Yet he did not object to the command of 
the Lord, as though it were an impossibility, but obeyed it. 
Along with the command strength was given, And he stretched it 
forth, and it loas restored whole, like as the other, Matt. xii. 13. 

Thus it is in the business of our salvation. It is God who 
worketh in us. This is a truth often repeated, and especially 



286 



CONNECTION OF DIVINE AGENCY 



acknowledged in the prayers of all true believers. He worketh 
in us both to will and to do. It is he who implants the desire for 
salvation, and the willingness to obey in our hearts ; and it is he 
who gives us grace to obey and strength to obtain that salvation. 
Hence the prayer of David, Create in me a clean heart, and renew a 
right spirit within me, Ps. li. 10. Hence the confession of the 
church in Isaiah, Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us, for thou also 
hast wrought all our ivorks in us, Is. xxvi. 12. Hence the prayer 
of the apostle for the Hebrews, that God would make them perfect 
in every good work to do his will. Working in them that which is 
well-pleasing in his sight, Heb. xiii. 21. Thus the people of God 
are made ivilling in the day of his power, Ps. ex. 3, and that for 
which in ourselves we are insufficient is accomplished by the 
mighty power of God working in us. 

It is here to be observed, that God's working in us, is not 
attributed by the apostle, to anything in ourselves, which induces 
him thus to work. It is entirely of his good pleasure. He gives 
no account of his matters. He does not tell us why he works in 
one, and not in all ; but in his sovereignty dispenses his favors 
as he will. To some men the sovereignty of God is an unlovely 
attribute ; nor do they wish to hear that he doeth according to his 
will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, 
Dan. iv. 35. But to the true child of God these is none in the 
whole compass of revelation so delightful, so full of all consolation. 
Is God the Holy and the Just One, a sovereign Euler? Then 
assuredly all shall be well. Under his perfect administration and 
firm control nothing shall occur for which abundant reason shall 
not in due time be given. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, 
Ps. xcvii. 1. 

The consideration of this subject furnishes us with several 
topics for practical remark : — 

1. Some men are greatly troubled with the doctrines of God's 
sovereignty and free grace ; and this, not so much because they 
are not clearly revealed in the Scriptures, as because they know 
not how to reconcile them with man's freedom and duty. They 
cannot see how God can be a sovereign, doing all things accord- 
ing to his own pleasure, and yet man remain a free and account- 
able being ; how salvation is entirely of grace, and yet works a 
matter of chief necessity. These are questions most fruitful in 
controversies, and by them the peace of the church has been for 
many ages disturbed. And yet they are purely theoretical ques- 



VTITH HUiTAX EFFORTS, 



287 



ttons. The apostle Paul found no difficulty m reconciling the 
two doctrines. He brings them in the closest connection, and 
seems utterly unconscious that there is the slightest incongruity 
between them. Work out your own salvation, TVhy? For it is 
God which worJceth in you both to will and to do of his own good 
pleasure. And there is no incongruity. Christian experience in 
all ages testifies that there is none. They who are most active in 
every good work, and most successful in their exertions in the 
cause of God, are the foremost to ascribe their success and their 
strength to labor, entirely to him. TTitness the declarations of 
David, when he had with all his might prepared for :he house of his 
God both gold and silver, and iron and brass, and all manner of 
precious stones, and, marble stones in abundance. He willingly 
offered all these things, and beheld with joy his people offering 
willingly unto God. Xoio therefore, our God. we thank thee, and 
praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people that 
we should be able (in the margin, obtain strength) to offer so willingly 
after this sort? for all things come of tJiee, and of thine own have we 
given thee. 1 Chron. xxix. 2. 13. 14, 17. The records of Christian 
biography are full of similar examples, and the spontaneous feel- 
ings of every Christian heart confirms them. Have you not felt, 
at any time when your efforts have been greatly blessed, that 
while von have done only what you felt you ought to do, yet 
without God's blessing your efforts would have been useless? 
Your own heart would have blamed you if you had not done all 
you did; and yet your own heart said, Xot unto us, but unto thy 
name be the olory, Ps. cxv. 1. These facts may exceed the power 
of our philosophy to explain, but they do not exceed the power 
of our natures to feel, and philosophy must learn, when experi- 
ence speaks. 

2. Learn, hence, the necessity and advantage of looking to 
God in every time of duty or trial, for strength and grace. Behold 
the sailor as he pursues his course across the ocean. His is no life of 
ease, or freedom from care and anxiety ; and yet of what avail were 
all his labors, were it not for the free winds of heaven, which God 
sends to speed him on his way ? He has no power to call the 
winds from their hidden caves. He has no art by which he can 
cause propitious gales to blow, and when his ship lies motionless 
in the calm, can a more perfect picture of utter helplessness be 
imagined, than is seen in the noble vessel, whose dark sides and 
useless sails are mirrored in the glassy waters ? But does this 



288 



CONNECTION OF DIVINE AGENCY, ETC. 



utter helplessness, this total want of control over the elements, re- 
lease him from the necessity of laboring ? Doth he not on that 
very account watch the clouds, and mark the courses of the winds 
with increased diligence ? Does he not shorten sail, or spread his 
canvass, and steer his ship so as to gain every possible advantage 
which (rod is pleased to put within his reach ? And should he 
not, when he reaches his desired haven, acknowledge the good- 
ness of him, who, holding the winds in his fist, has granted him 
to end his voyage in safety ? And such is Christian duty. It is 
ours to labor. It is God's to bless. It is ours to spread the sails, 
and the Spirit's influences blowing like the wind, where it listeth, 
shall waft us to the port of eternal rest. 

3. Hence, also, you may draw abundant encouragement in all 
your efforts to secure salvation. Your heart often trembles when 
you reflect on the greatness of the work, and the dangers that op- 
pose. Your hopes almost fail at times, when you think of the 
length of the way. It is with fear and trembling that you pursue 
your course, and well it may be so. Yet, be not dismayed. An 
unseen eye is watching over you. An unseen arm is stretched 
out for your defence ; almighty power is enlisted on your behalf. 
It is God who worketh in you, and when did he ever work in vain ? 
If he hath begun a good work in you, he will surely perform it to the 
day of Jesus Christ, Phil. i. 6, for it is not the manner of God to 
leave his work unfinished, or throw away that on which he hath 
begun to bestow labor. Have holy thoughts begun to arise in 
your hearts ? do desires after the presence, and favor ; and like- 
ness of God enter your minds ? Then cherish them carefully. It 
is God who worketh in you to will, to desire such things, and if 
you put not away his first influences, he will also work in you to 
do all his holy will ; and then, after you have suffered awhile, he 
will also make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you, 1 Pet. v. 10. 

4. Finally. This subject affords a test of your character, for 
self-examination. Is it God who worketh in you both to will and 
to do ? what then is the character of your works ? Are your 
works such as reflect honor on God ? Are your thoughts such 
as come from a holy God ? Hereby know we that we dwell in him, 
because he hath given us of his Spirit, 1 John iv. 13. 

Macao, October 20, 1844. 



SERMON XXXIII. 



THE DISCIPLES IIS" THE STORM. 

And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered 
into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, 
and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind 
that blew. So when they had rowed about twenty or thirty furlongs, they see 
Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship : and they were afraid. 
Eut he saith unto them, It is I ; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him 
into the ship : and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went. — 
John vi, 16-21. 

The miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ were most remarkable 
events, in whatever light we choose to regard them. The power 
displayed in them, and the frequency with which they occurred, 
were equally wonderful. Daily he went about doing good, and 
daily mighty works were performed by him, until the beloved 
disciple was forced to say that the world itself could not contain 
the books in which a full account of all he did should be re- 
corded. It must be an exhaustless fountain from which such co- 
pious streams proceed. 

But these miracles were not performed merely to excite an 
empty admiration. They were intended, not only to excite our 
attention and reverence, and to confirm our faith, but also to give 
us solid and abiding instructions. The instructive charade of the 
miracles of Christ is often overlooked : and yet to one who con- 
siders them rightly, this is not less wonderful than their frequency 
and power. But our wonder is diminished, though not our ad 
miration, when we consider who performed them. It was Christ 
who never spake one idle word, nor performed one unmeaning 
action. He had planned before, the reason and manner of every- 
thing he did, and had disposed, according to his own wisdom, the 
multiplied relations of every action. Instruction therefore may 
be expected, and should be sought in every part of his life ; be- 
cause it may be said (without violence to the words of the apos- 

19 



290 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STORM. 



tie), These- things were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends 
of the world are come, 1 Cor. x. 11. 

In the miracle of which the text is the record, there is but 
little that requires explanation. It is a simple narrative of one 
of the actions of our Saviour ; and though the narrative given by 
the apostle John is shorter than those of Matthew and Mark, 
there is nothing in it that differs from them, or renders particular 
reference to them needful. I propose therefore to dwell chiefly 
on the practical lessons it affords. 

It occurred within twenty -four hours after the miracle of feed- 
ing five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes. Our Lord 
was not eager to display his miraculous powers, or to gain the 
applause of men by his mighty works. He was equally ready to 
perform them in the city or in the desert ; in the presence and 
for the sake of ten thousand spectators, or with the knowledge, 
and for the sake of ten, or even of one. When the proud Herod 
hoped to have seen some miracle done by him, he refused to gratify 
his vain curiosity, Luke xxiii. 9, 10 ; but he never refused the 
solitary and obscure applicants who needed his aid. 

He had been on the east side of the sea of Tiberias when the 
miracle of multiplying the five loaves was performed. Immedi- 
ately afterwards, he constrained his disciphs to get into a ship, and 
go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away, 
Matt. xiv. 22. When this was done, forgetful of his own need 
of rest, he retired into a mountain apart to pray, and, as it ap- 
pears, he spent the greater part of the night in prayer to God. 
Mark vi. 47, 48. 

The disciples started in their little vessel to go to Capernaum, 
a distance of perhaps eight or nine miles : but short as the dis- 
tance was, the way proved exceedingly tedious. The wind being 
contrary, they were obliged to row the boat ; and one of the sud- 
den and violent squalls which often disturb that lake, raised the 
waves so high as to cause them great toil and labor at the oars, 
and even to put their lives in danger. The sea arose by reason of 
a great wind that blew. In this way they had gone about half-way 
over the lake. It had long been dark, and yet Jesus was not 
come unto them. Midnight was now passed, and it drew towards 
the morning watch, and still they saw him not. 

How different was their condition now, from what it had been 
but a few hours before. Then Jesus miraculously fed them, 
and his kind and gracious words were even sweeter than the 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STORM. 



291 



bread they ate. They sat on the green grass, while their Shep- 
herd fed them with living bread, and they followed his voice, 
while he led them by the still waters. Like Peter in the mount 
of transfiguration, they were ready to say, It is good to be here, let 
us make tabernacles and abide. But now they were on the dark 
and boisterous sea, tossed with the waves, in danger and alone, 
for Jesus was not come unto them. In all this, their condition was 
an exact picture of Christian experience. There are but few of 
God's children who do not experience many, and oftentimes pain- 
ful fluctuations of feeling in their heavenward course. There are 
some, whose course is like that of the just man, shining more and 
more unto the perfect day, Prov. iv. 18, but with most it is far dif- 
ferent. One day, they feast upon the richest provisions of the 
heavenly kingdom, and eat angels' food, while peace and joy, and 
love to a present Saviour, fill their hearts. The next day, they 
are tossed upon a sea of troubles, from which they can discern no 
prospect of deliverance. They cannot penetrate the gloom around 
them, nor behold the face of their Saviour, in whose smiles they 
had basked but the day before. There is a constant analogy in 
the occurrences of the natural and of the spiritual world, for God 
has so arranged the one that it forms a sort of commentary to the 
other. No day passes without its lights and shadows ; few sea- 
sons of calm without a following storm. I may say therefore, to 
any follower of Christ now present, who suffers under these pain- 
ful changes of feeling, Be not discouraged. Your case is by no 
means singular. That you once possessed joy in God, and now 
are without it, does not prove that you are not truly his, for we 
may be in great joy, and yet soon fall into the depths of sorrow. 
We may sit with the disciples while Jesus breaks and gives the 
biead of life ; and we may toil with them on the stormy sea, 
when Jesus is far away. But where was our Saviour all this 
time ? Probably Satan took this opportunity of suggesting to the 
disciples many distressing thoughts respecting him, and doubts of 
his love and kindness. There was no room for such temptations 
while they sat on the grass, and heard his words, and saw his 
miracles ; but now when alone and in danger, was the time for 
the great enemy to work, and he did it but too successfully ; they 
considered not the miracle of the loaves ; for their heart was hardened, 
Mark vi. 52. It is thus that we give the devil advantage over us. 
We remember not the former kindnesses of our Lord, when pres- 
ent distress is upon us ; and hence hard thoughts of him arise, 



292 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STOEM. 



and doubts of his love. Perhaps the disciples were ready to ask, 
" Why did our Master constrain us so earnestly to depart, when 
he must have foreseen the coming storm ? Why does he, who 
has such power over the elements, suffer this storm to arise? 
Why, when we are in the path which he himself commanded us 
to take, does he suffer us to be placed in difficulty and danger ? 
Why does he not now appear for our relief?" Fellow-Christian, 
have you not often asked such questions, when you were met by 
unexpected difficulties, in what you supposed to be the path of 
duty ? Have you not been tempted at times to relinquish some 
undertaking for (rod's glory, when you found yourselves impeded 
in its prosecution ? Consider carefully the case of the disciples 
in the storm before you suffer such questions to arise, or such un- 
dertakings to be abandoned. 

The greater part of that night was spent by Christ in secret 
prayer. Often, even when wearied with his labors among the 
people, he spent whole nights in prayer to Grod. It is not for us 
to ask the subject of his devotions ; for who knows or can con- 
ceive of the communion of infinite intelligences, bound together 
by a union so close and intimate as that of the persons of the Trin- 
ity? But there is no doubt that he prayed for his disciples. 
He was away from them, for they were on the sea, and he was on 
the land alone. Yet the evangelist Mark, tells us expressly that 
he saw them toiling in rowing. He prayed for them. He prayed 
for all that should believe on his name, through their word. He 
often prays for his people when the storm rages around them ; 
and though they see him not, he watches over them, and cares 
for their welfare. They may be in outward sorrow, or in bodily 
danger, in the storm at sea, or the battle on land, or on the bed 
of acute or of wasting disease ; and his hand is still stretched out 
for their support and relief. Or, they may be exercised with 
mental distress, far harder to bear than any bodily suffering. 
They may feel the pains of disappointed hopes, and blasted ex- 
pectations, the unkindness of friends, or the loss of beloved ob- 
jects of affection; they may be tried with Satan's sore tempta- 
tions, with the uprising of the heart's natural wickedness; or, 
worse than all, with the crushing apprehension of God's displeas- 
ure ; but it is well in all these cases to remember that we have 
an high priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, 
for he was in all "points tempted like as we are, Heb. iv. 15. He 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STORM. 



293 



will not suffer us to be tempted above that ive are able to bear, but will 
tvith the temptation, make a way to escape, 1 Cor. x. 13. 

He did not forget his disciples in their distress, and when 
they began to be exhausted with their labors he made his appear- 
ance. The darkest time is often just before the dawn — the period 
when hope is almost abandoned is often followed by the joy of 
full deliverance and success. It was so with the disciples ; it is 
often so in Christian experience now. 

About the fourth watch of the night, or shortly before the 
dawn of the day, Jesus came to them. They see Jesus walking upon 
the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship. Very strange are the ways 
in which oftentimes God is pleased to deliver his people. The 
very waves that threatened to overwhelm the disciples were as 
the solid ground on which the Saviour walked to rescue them ; 
and thus Glod often uses the things which most we fear to deliver 
us from the evils we dread. 

" Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, 
The clouds ye so much dread 
Are big with mercies, and shall break 
In blessings on your head." 

It was truly a wonderful manifestation of the Divine power 
which the disciples now beheld. But so strange and unexpected 
was this appearance of Christ, that they were greatly terrified. In 
the dimness and gloom of the storm and driving spray, they saw 
a human figure moving over the boisterous waves, and approach- 
ing their vessel. Supposing that it was a spirit, they cried out 
for fear. Their mistake, and their fear was natural enough, and 
probably each of us, in the same circumstances, would have been 
similarly affected. And yet we have in their fear another proof, 
if proof were needed, of the blindness and ignorance of men. 
They wished for Christ to come, and would have rejoiced in his 
presence ; and yet because he came not in the way they expected, 
they failed to perceive that it was he, and being terrified at his 
presence, they even wished him away. The Lord's ways of deal- 
ing with his people are at times strange enough. They wish for 
peace and happiness, and pray for his favor ; and in answer to 
their prayers, he suffers the inmost depths of their hearts to be 
stirred with sorrow. Yet when the season of distress passes away 
a calm remains such as they never knew before. As in the natu- 
ral world, the thunder-storm, and the black clouds, are followed 



294 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STOEM. 



by a purity and clearness in the atmosphere unfelt before. Thus 
the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind omd the storm, and the clouds 
are the dust of his feet, ISTah. i. 3. But we are like nervous persons 
who even in time of drought are afraid of the dark thunder-cloud. 
Our moral system is out of order, and we fear the remedies which 
our gracious Physician is pleased to employ. 

To calm the disciples' fears, Jesus spake to them. They were 
but few words that he uttered, but they possessed a more than 
magical power, It is I, be not afraid. These are wonderful words. 
They show us the grace and power of our Lord, the simple an- 
nouncement of whose presence was sufficient to calm the fears of 
his disciples in danger, and reassure their hopes. And how great 
must be his love to his creatures, when his simple presence is the 
ground of their safety ! It is as though he had said, " It is I ; you 
know that I love you ; you know my power to save ; you know 
that no danger can befall you as long as I am near — Be not afraid." 

And yet why did not this announcement of his presence fill 
their minds with even greater terror ? Bring the inhabitant of 
another world, and bid him look upon the scene we are now con- 
sidering. Tell him that one of these parties is the great and just 
God, a lover of holiness, and avenger of sin ; that he should be 
the final Judge of all. Tell him that the others were his crea- 
tures, who had all their lives long been rebels, full of sin, and 
worthy of destruction ; and that even since they had commenced 
the service of Christ, they had frequently provoked him. Would 
he not at once predict their utter destruction ? Would he not 
say, that the storm was only the precursor of the divine wrath, 
and that the Judge had now come in person to execute it ? But 
whatever he might think or say, it was not on such an errand 
that Christ came. He came not to destroy, but to save. He 
came to do them good ; and so much love filled his heart that the 
mere fact of his presence is a ground of hope and confidence, in- 
stead of fear and dismay. 

The death of Christ has wrought great things for us, in which 
we do well to rejoice. Before, we could approach to God, only 
as a just judge, who would surely take vengeance on our sins. 
Now, we have access with confidence by the faith of him. Be- 
fore, the announcement of his presence would fill us with terror, 
and like our first parents after their fall, we should flee to hide 
in the thickest of the wood. Now, no sound is so full of conso- 
lation as the voice of our Saviour saying, It is I, be not afraid. 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STORM. 



295 



It is especially in times of danger and distress, that the pres- 
ence of Christ is valued by the child of Grod. It is pleasant to 
see him in the sunshine and the calm, though in such seasons the 
Christian is too apt to forget his need of him. But when diffi- 
culties arise — when Satan's temptations vex the heart — when the 
light of God's countenance is withdrawn — or when we are in sore 
distress of body, or mourning under disappointments and bereave- 
ments, then there is a charm in the words, It is ij he not afraid, that 
human language cannot express. And why should not the 
Christian hear those words in every such season of trial ? You 
believe, or you ought to believe, that nothing happens to you by 
chance ; that if you are in difficulties, it is by the appointment, or 
the permission of your gracious Saviour. 

Gro forward, then, cheerfully in the path of duty. Difficulties 
may befall you there ; for when the disciples obeyed the command 
of Christ, and attempted to cross the sea of Galilee, they were 
met by a storm, and exposed to danger. Be not discouraged if 
difficulties meet you, but look to your Saviour for help, and he 
will surely succor you. His assistance may seem to tarry long. 
Like the disciples, you may toil in rowing nearly all the night, 
but in due season he will appear for your relief. But do not 
expect that he will bring it to you in the way that you would 
have chosen. The disciples greatly desired the presence of 
Christ, but they little thought that he should come walking on 
the waters. 

" G-od moves in a mysterious "way, 
His wonders to perform ; 
He plants his footsteps on the sea, 
And rides upon the storm." 

Miracles followed miracles in close succession in the life of 
Christ. No sooner had he said, It is I: he not afraid, than the 
disciples received him into their ship, and immediately the wind 
ceased, Matt. xiv. 32 ; and while they were wondering at this, 
immediately the ship was at the land whither they went How great 
was the power of Christ, contrasted with the weakness of man ! 
The disciples had toiled all the night, and scarcely advanced 
more than twenty-five or thirty furlongs. The presence of Christ 
stilled the waves, and a word from him carried their ship in an 
instant farther than they had advanced through the whole night. 
Here, too, is a lesson which the Christian would do well to bear 
in mind. Even when you engage in the performance of what is 



296 



THE DISCIPLES IN THE STOEM. 



evidently your duty, you need the presence and assistance of 
your Saviour. The work will go slowly forward, if you hear not 
his voice saying, It is I. 

Let, then, the consideration of this subject teach us all, above 
all things else, to desire the presence and blessing of our Saviour. 
"With that, you can never be alone. With that, you can never 
fail in duty. With that, you can never suffer harm. With that 
you can go through the valley of the shadow of death unmoved. 
When the last solemn scene in the world's great drama is closed, 
and when all flesh stand together before the bar of God, fear and 
trembling shall seize the hearts of some, and they shall call upon 
the mountains and the rocks to fall upon them, and hide them 
from the face of the Lamb. But the words that he shall then 
speak unto his own chosen ones, will seem but the echo of what 
he said to the disciples, It is I: be not afraid, and the righteous 
shall look upon him without fear. They shall see in him the 
Saviour who loved and sustained them on earth, and who died 
that they might live ; and they shall rejoice in the prospect of an 
eternity in his presence. 

" 'Mid the glorious songs above, 
And praises of redeeming love, It is I 
Will give thee peaceful rest ; 
In my courts thy home shall be. 
'Mid happiness, I'll render thee forever blest? 



Macao, October 27, 1844. 



SEEMON XXXIV. 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 

Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou 
shalt know hereafter. — John xiii. 1. 

These words were spoken by our Saviour, on the memorable 
night of the institution of the Lord's Supper, and of his betrayal 
into the hands of wicked men. They are words of deep and in- 
teresting meaning. All of his sayings are instructive, for no idle 
word ever passed his lips. But on an occasion like the present, 
when his life was about to be taken away ; when the toils and 
pains of more than thirty years were about to be consummated 
on the cross ; when he was about to finish the work which he came 
into the world expressly to perform, we may well expect a deeper 
import, and a fuller meaning in all he said. 

When the supper was ended, our Lord arose, took a towel, 
girded himself, and began to wash the disciples' feet. He came 
first, probably, to Simon Peter ; but the impetuous disciple, 
astonished at this act of condescension, wished to prevent what 
he considered too great a degradation of his Master. Lord, dost 
thou wash my feet? Oar Lord quietly said, What I do, thou know- 
est not now ; but thou shalt know hereafter ; but this did not satisfy 
Peter, and he hastily replied, Thou shalt never wash my feet. 
These words brought from our Lord a more decided declaration. 
If I tvash thee not, thou hast no part with me, and the opposition of 
Peter was quelled at once. 

I do not purpose at present to dwell on the import of Christ's 
action, in washing the disciples' feet. It is full of delightful 
meaning, and will amply repay the Christian for all the time he 
spends in studying it. Let us consider the meaning of the 
words, What I do, thou knowest not now ; but thou shalt know here- 
after. 



298 



OUK PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



The sayings of our Lord, are like axioms in mathematics, or 
general truths in the other sciences. They have a force and 
meaning, not confined to the occasions when they were first 
announced, and when we carefully consider them, they often sur- 
prise us by the extensive and various applications of which they 
are susceptible. 

The declaration before us, is one little flattering to our self- 
love and vanity. It proclaims our ignorance, and incompetence 
to judge even of things that pass before our eyes, and in which 
we are personally interested ; and yet it is also one full of conso- 
lation and of glorious hope. It tells us, that, though ignorant 
now, we shall not be always ignorant; for the time is coming 
when things hidden shall be revealed, and things that are dark 
shall be made plain. The words are to be understood as one of 
the general truths of God's government — to wit, that at present 
we know neither the things that God is doing,, the reasons for 
which he does them, nor the mode in which he effects his pur- 
poses. They tell us that we are now in a state of pupilage, in 
which, though some things are made known unto us, yet the full 
disclosure of all things is reserved till a future time. 

Much may be known of God even here. Much is revealed 
to us now, and we find abundant cause to adore his wisdom 
which shines around us. But even when we know most of his 
dealings and his ways, how little do we know. Enough we know, 
to be satisfied that he doeth all things well : but not enough, 
either to understand fully his plans and schemes, or to satisfy the 
curiosity that rises in the breast. After the fullest disclosures, 
we are obliged to join with the patriarch who said, Lo, these are 
parts of Ms ways, but how little a portion is heard of him / but the 
thunder of his power who can understand ! Job xxvi. 14, The truth 
of this is soon evident when we consider any of the particulars 
in which his works are seen. 

I. It is true that we know not now what our Lord is doing, in 
his general government of all. 

Our Saviour is a great King. All power in heaven and earth is 
given unto him, Matt, xxviii. 18. He is constituted head over all 
things to the church, Eph. i. 22. He is in his own right, Euler of 
all, and God over all, blessed forever, Eom. ix. 5. He governs the 
nations of the earth ; some with the sceptre of his love, and 
some with a rod of iron. But his dominion is not confined to 
this world. Even when abased on earth, the unclean spirits ac- 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



299 



knowledged that lie had power over tliem, and could command 
them into the deep; and now when exalted on his mediatorial 
throne, all worlds are subject to his control. Heaven bows at his 
footstool in willing subjection. Hell yields a constrained obedi- 
ence, his hand is stretched out over the earth, and it is the footstool 
on which his power is displayed. How vast are his dominions ! 
How numerous are his subjects! What. wisdom is required to 
direct the affairs of this mighty empire ! For it must be observed, 
that all the parts of this empire are bound together, and one sys- 
tem of government must pervade the whole. Remotest influences 
are brought to bear upon each several part. Messengers daily 
pass and repass from the upper sanctuary to this lower world. 
Angels are sent to minister to the saints on earth, or check the 
evils caused by fallen spirits from beneath. The conversion of 
one sinner here, sends pulsations of joy throughout the hosts 
around the throne, Luke xv. 10. 

God has a plan for the government of this wide-spread king- 
dom. To deny him a plan and system of administration, would 
be to make him inferior to the governors of the earth, for with 
us, every wise ruler uses foresight in his administration ; and the 
larger the sphere of his jurisdiction, the more comprehensive are 
his plans, and the more carefully does he seek to anticipate the 
future, that nothing may take him by surprise. The attention of 
the statesman is turned to everything that may influence the 
happiness of the people, and he is the most esteemed who best 
understands, and most carefully provides for the wants of all. 
How vast must be the plans of our Creator ! How comprehen- 
sive must be that system that embraces all the interests of all his 
dominions, and which not only attends to the present wants, but 
foresees the future condition of each one of those dependent on 
his bounty. Xo sparrow falls to the ground without his knowl- 
edge ; the young lions roar after their prey, and seeh their meat from 
God, and of the great and wide sea, in which there go things 
creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts, it is said, These 
all wait upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season, 
Ps civ. 21-27. The elements are all under his control, Fire and 
hail snow and vapors; stormy wind fulfilling his words, Ps. cxlviii. 8. 
The planetary worlds move in obedience to his command. The 
sun stood still upon Gribeon, and the moon in the valley of Aja- 
lou, that his wrath might be executed upon the devoted CaDaan- 
ites, Josh. x. 13 : yea, They fought from heaven ; the stars in their 



300 OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



course, fought against Sisera ; that his people might be delivered 
from those that oppressed them, Judges v. 20. 

A system so vast and complicated, is not developed in a 
moment. Ages roll away, and God's plan for the government 
of the universe is gradually unfolded. One generation passeth 
away and another generation cometh, Ecc. i. 4. Revolutions change 
the face of society. Empires rise and fall, the face of the earth is 
renewed, Ps. civ. 31, but his plan goes on in its slow and stately 
march, to its appointed consummation. 

Contemplate, then, this mighty scheme. Behold its vast extent, 
and ask yourselves, " Is it strange that God says to us, while he 
directs these various operations, What I do, thou hnowest not now ? M 
How can we know, how can we comprehend the whole, when the 
parts are so far removed? We are like spectators of some vast 
procession, of which we catch a glimpse as it winds around the 
projecting side of a hill ; but its commencement and its termina- 
tion are alike unseen ; or rather, we are a part of that procession, 
moving on in our appointed station with the rest ; and though we 
may occasionally turn and contemplate the part nearest to our- 
selves, we cannot see the whole. Detached parts present them- 
selves, we see a little here, and a little there, but the rest is hidden 
from our sight. What wonder, if in beholding these apparently 
unconnected fragments, we find ourselves unable to combine them 
into one great whole? What wonder, if we cannot trace the 
intentions of Him who declareth the end from the beginning, Is. 
xlvi. 10. 

Suppose a child, or a peasant were asked to consider all the 
schemes of a statesman, could he comprehend them? Much 
study and experience, and close application of the mind are 
needed to understand all the affairs of a single nation, for a single 
age. How much more when the subject for consideration is the 
empire of the Most High, whose dominion is an everlasting domin- 
ion, and his kingdom from generation to generation, Dan. iv. 34. 
Behold, This cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, which is wonderful 
in counsel, and excellent in working, Is. xxviii. 29. Therefore, it is 
no matter of surprise, if when we contemplate God's general 
government, we are obliged to confess our inability to understand 
it all. He says to us, What I do thou knowest not now. 

II. It is also true that we know not what God does in those 
things which more particularly concern the welfare of his church on 
earth. 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



301 



The general government of God, of which, we have first 
spoken, includes his administration of the affairs of the church. 
Indeed, though men are slow to believe it, his general government 
of all, has special and primary reference to the interests of his 
own people. For in ancient times, When the Most High divided to 
the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, 
he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the 
children of Israel, Deut. xxxii. 8, and now, by his appointment, 
all things work together for good to them that love God, Eom. viii. 28. 
Yet although this item is included in that of which we have just 
spoken, it is well to make it a matter of separate consideration. 

The church of God is the object of his peculiar love and care. 
The tenderest and the strongest terms are used in the Scriptures 
to denote his affection for it, and actions stronger than any words, 
prove that his love is stronger than death itself. God spared not 
his own Son but freely gave him up for us all, Eom. viii. 32. Christ 
loved the church, and gave himself for it, Eph. v. 25. Therefore we 
naturally expect that in all God's dealings with his church he 
should show his love to it. So he does ; but we expect him not 
only to show his love, but to exercise it in ways that shall corres- 
pond with our views, and meet our wishes. So he does not. His 
ways are not as our ways. He has modes of showing his love to 
his people that are strange to us, and often for the time full of 
mystery. 

Ever since the fall of Adam, God has had a church on earth ; 
and shall have till the end of time. The gates of hell shall never 
prevail against Zion. This church has been constantly the apple 
of his eye ; and yet how varied have been its outward states. From 
small beginnings, it has risen and increased ; and when apparently 
in the height of its prosperity some unknown cause has affected 
it, and it has diminished, and become weak. It has sunk down, 
and for a time become almost invisible. Again it has risen and 
shone with renewed splendor only to fall into still lower depths. 
Persecutions and afflictions from without have oppressed the 
church. Dissensions within have torn her. God's own hand 
has been upon her. He has led her into the wilderness, Hos. ii. 
14. He has caused her to pass under the rod, Ezek. xx. 37. He 
has chastised and afflicted her, in wonderful ways, until as in 
the case of the ancient Jews, she has been a by-word and a 
proverb, among the nations ; and men have asked in astonish- 
ment, Is this Jerusalem, the beloved of Jehovah f Is this she that 



302 4k 0JJR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



was called the perfection of beauty, and the joy of the whole earth f Lam. 
ii. 15. What hath the Lord done ? and the only answer that 
could be given, was contained in the words of our Lord, What 1 
do thou knowest not now. He. directed all the strokes that fell 
so heavily upon her, and he also raised up deliverers when all 
hope in man had failed. When the Israelites were oppressed by 
their enemies, and cried unto the Lord, he raised up judges which 
delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them, Judges 
ii. 16 ; and oftentimes these judges were the men most unlike- 
ly to be chosen, and used instruments that offered no human proba- 
bility of success. At one time, Ehud, a left-handed man; at 
another, Jael with a tent-hammer and nail ; then Gideon and his 
three hundred with lamps and pitchers ; Shamgar with an ox- 
goad ; and Samson with the jaw-bone of an ass; such were the 
instruments with which God wrought deliverance for Israel. 
When Sennacherib with his mighty host came to overwhelm the 
pious Hezekiah, an angel of the Lord was sent forth, who slew in one 
night all the flower of his army. When the Jews were dispersed 
among the nations, God turned the heart of the Pagan monarch 
Cyrus, to send them back to their own land. Especially great 
was the mystery of godliness, when the Son of God, even God him- 
self, was manifest in the flesh. In vain did he proclaim to his dis- 
ciples the great work he came to do, and the great sacrifice he 
came to offer. It was too high and too mysterious for their com- 
prehension. What he did they knew not then. They understood 
not his saying ; and it was hid from them that they perceived it not, 
Luke ix. 45. They understood none of these things, Luke xviii. 34. 
These things understood not the disciples at the first ; but when Jesus 
ivas glorified, then remembered they, John xii. 16. It was not till 
Christ had opened their understandings that they understood his 
work. It was not until the Comforter came, whom he had prom- 
ised, that he should teach them all things, John xiv. 26, that 
they comprehended that which he did. 

The history of the church in the ages since the advent of our 
Lord, had we time to consider it now, would afford us equally clear 
and striking evidences, that in the Lord's dealings with her, what 
he does we know not now. The aspect of the church in our own 
days affords sufficient proof. Who can foresee the end of some of 
the controversies that now disturb the peace of the church ? Who 
shall tell us how great shall be the result of the system of modern 
missions to the heathen which distinguishes the present from the 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



303 



ages that have preceded it ? The prophecies and the providence 
of God alike teach us that an important crisis in the history of 
the church is close at hand ; but who knows what God is doing, 
or what the end of these things shall be ? 

Closely connected with this subject of our ignorance of what 
God is doing in the church is another — our ignorance of the 
meaning of many parts of the Scriptures. The word of God con- 
tains a perfect record of all his plan of governing his church. 
The reasons of his actions are laid down there, and the laws of his 
kingdom ; and were our minds more capacious, our faculties more 
enlarged, we should find little difficulty in understanding them. 
But, as we are now, we are obliged to wait oftentimes till the 
event has taught us the fall meaning of the prophecy ; till the 
actual completion of his plan has taught us to comprehend the 
record which announces the plan. It is not strange, therefore, 
that some things are hard to be understood in the Scriptures, nor 
should men complain if they find mysteries in the eternal archives. 
You acquire knowledge gradually, in other sciences, and will you 
become perfect theologians at once ? You read the book of na- 
ture which is spread out before your eyes, and by slow degrees 
comprehend a little of its contents ; and is it strange that the book 
of Eevelation which speaks of more wonderful things, should re- 
quire equally long and careful study ? 

III. It may be remarked, thirdly, that the modes in which 
God accomplishes his works, are to us as strange and incompre- 
hensible as the works themselves. He sees the end from the be- 
ginning, and adapts the means to his purposes. Possessing al- 
mighty power, he uses the most unlikely means to accomplish his 
will. He maketh even the wrath of man to praise him, and the re- 
mainder thereof he restrains, Ps. lxxvi. 10. He uses unconscious 
agents — many even unwilling instruments — to execute his pleas- 
ure. The proud Assyrian who boasted of his prowess and of his 
might, of the strength of his hand, and of his prudence, was but 
the instrument of God to execute wrath against a sinful and hyp- 
ocritical nation, Is. x. "We may not be able to see the connection 
between the means employed and the result intended — but God 
has joined them indissolubly together. He uses thunder-storms 
to purify the physical atmosphere of the earth ; and revolutions 
to purge away the impurities of the social and moral systems of 
men. While the storm is raging we may not see how it shall end 
in greater peace ; but after the tempest he giveth tranquillity, 



304: 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



and though we know not now how he worketh, we shall know 
hereafter. 

It is God's ordinary course to conceal his workings. He dwells 
in the thick darkness. He has his way in the deep waters : He 
hath his way in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the 
dust of his feet, Nan. i. 3. Or if at any time clouds and darkness 
do not surround his throne, it is because he then dwelleth in 
light, which is to us equally inaccessible, being too full of glory 
for the gaze of our feeble eyes, and from the throne, the voice 
still comes to our ears, What I do, thou Tcnowest not now. 

IV. In God's providential dealings with particular persons, there 
is often much that seems strange. On no point are men so much 
at a loss, as in regard to the unequal distribution of good and 
evil to good and bad men ; and because what God does, cannot 
be made to agree with the preconceived opinions of men, there 
are many who totally deny his providential government and 
interposition. Certain it is that afflictions come where man would 
not send them ; that honor and riches are bestowed where man 
would have withheld them. Holy Job, a man perfect and upright, 
and kind to all, was deprived of property, children, and health. 
Covered with sores he sat upon a dunghill, and became the object 
of scorn, to those whose fathers he would have disdained to set 
with the dogs of his flock, Job xxx. 1. On the other hand, the 
wicked walk on every side and the vilest men are exalted. They 
live, become old, yea, are mighty in power, they spend their days 
in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave, Job xxi. 7-13, 
without experiencing the pains of lingering sickness or wasting- 
disease. These are not merely the records of other times, they 
are what you and I have seen in our own days. Have we not 
seen God send repeated afflictions on those of whom no man could 
say, " they are worse than others?" Have we not seen his waves 
and his billows go over the heads of those that trusted in him ? 
Have we not seen the delicate female who had left her father's 
house for the sake of the perishing heathen, and endured priva- 
tions for a course of years, to which in her own land she would 
not have been subjected, prostrated with frequent sickness in the 
land of her sojourning? Have we not seen her taken away from 
the bosom of her husband, and the children she bare him, when 
they most needed her care? Have we not seen those apparently 
best qualified to carry on God's work, and build up Christ's king- 
dom, cut down at the very moment when their services seemed 



OUK PEESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



305 



most indispensable ? Who of us has not felt as we stood by the 
opened graves of our friends who have recently fallen, or joined 
in the funeral processions of such men as Dyer and Morrison, that 
a voice from heaven was saying to us, W hat I do thou knowest not 
now. 

And in (rod's favorable dealings with his own people, it is 
emphatically true, that they know not what he does. We are 
too apt to confine our views to the present. We are too apt to 
think that when we have received a token of his favor, that our 
portion is given us, and to rejoice in it. But this is only the seed- 
time. It is not the harvest. These merciful dispensations are 
not the portion of his people. Is he now bestowing blessings 
upon your souls ? They are only the earnests of what he will 
hereafter bestow. Has he begun to receive you into favor, 
and to show his love ? It is but the beginning, the end is not 
yet. You have not seen all that he can and will do for you. 
You shall see things greater than these — yea so much greater, 
that all } r our present experience of his love can give you but low 
and faint ideas of them ; As it is written, eye hath not seen nor ear 
heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God 
hath prepared for them that love him, 1 Cor. ii. 9. 

Yes, fellow Christian ! What God is doing for you, you know 
not now. All your afflictions and all your joys — your hours of 
trial and your seasons of repose — they are working out for you a 
far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Now, you may 
not understand them, but hereafter you shall. For it is to be 
carefully observed, that this state of ignorance shall not last for- 
ever. What I do, says Christ, Thou knowest not now, but thou 
shall know hereafter. Even in this life we shall know much. The 
book of God's word, and the book of God's providence are spread 
out before us ; and by a careful study of them, joined to earnest 
prayer for the divine illumination, we shall, even in this state of 
pupilage, make large advances in heavenly knowledge. Many 
of the mysteries in God's general government of the world, and 
in his dealings with his church, shall become plain to us; and 
especially shall the dark parts in our own history become more 
legible. So often is this the case, that the experience of all of God's 
children leads them to say, It is good for me that I have been afflicted. 
And there is a promise left to those who will apply to the study 
of these things, for, Whoso is ivise and will observe these things^ 
even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord, Ps. cvii. 43, 

20 



I 

306 OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 

But though even in this life, we may learn much of what God is 
doing, we cannot learn all. The scene is too vast to be surveyed 
from any elevation this world affords — the prospect is too extended 
to be accurately beheld by eyes so feeble as ours now are. Thou 
shalt know hereafter, but it shall be in the other world, and this 
consideration is both a matter of hope to the Christian, and a 
solemn warning to the impenitent. 

One of the most delightful of the occupations of heaven will 
be to trace the dealings of God with our world. Then, the map 
of his providence shall be spread out before the Christian, and 
every defect being removed from his vision, he shall see clearly 
what now is seen but in part. The ways of God to man shall 
then be fully justified. Nor shall a doubt remain, but that He 
hath done all things ivell. Even those things which are now ob- 
scure, shall be seen to have been ordered in the highest wisdom, 
and the believer shall be astonished to see how God was leading 
him along, guarding him from dangers and supplying every want, 
when he thought himself utterly desolate and forsaken. Now he 
leadeth the blind in a way they know not, Is. xlii. 16, but then they 
shall confess that the way of infinite wisdom, though ofttimes 
veiled in clouds and darkness, was by far the best that could have 
been chosen, Now we see through a glass darkly ; hut then face to 
face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as lam known, 
1 Cor. xiii. 12. As it has been well expressed by the Christian 
poet, 

" Then shall I see and feel I know, 
All I desired or wished below, 
And every power find sweet employ- 
In that eternal world of joy." 

But to the impenitent and unbelieving, this aspect of the subject 
is one for solemn consideration. In heaven there shall be full 
knowledge of all of God's doings, and this shall be a source of joy 
unspeakable — but in the world of woe, all knowledge shall be an 
aggravation of the miseries of the lost. Now, men make it an 
excuse that they cannot understand what God is doing, that some 
things are too obscure, some are almost absurd, some unjust. 
But in the other world, all these excuses will be shown to be 
futile. Thou shalt know hereafter, that the Judge of all the earth 
doeth right. Thou shalt know hereafter, there was nothing in all 
he did to give occasion to these captious cavillings. Thou shalt 
know hereafter, the glories of that world to which he invites our 
race, the full salvation offered to all, and that the fault is not with 



OUR PRESENT KNOWLEDGE IMPERFECT. 



307 



God, but with man, that an}" of our race are finally excluded from 
the paradise of God. Thou shcdt hiou: hereafter — but God grant, 
that none of us may know by our own experience, the terrors of 
the Lord, and the miseries of those, who, for their own sins, have 
been thrust down to hell ! 

The length of the remarks already made prevents me from 
adding more than these three short practical reflections : — 

1. Learn patience and submission to Gods will. Take it for 
granted that though you understand not all he says and does, yet 
he is wise and good in alb Be not surprised that you cannot 
understand all his dealings with you now ; and wait till the time 
lie is pleased to explain them. 

2. Study carefully the dealings of God with man, and pray for 
the illumination of the Spirit. Thus shall you understand some- 
what of the ways of God. 

8. Eepose confidence in God. There is no other in whom 
you can confide. He has already shown you, that even when 
you knew not what he did, you had abundant reason to say, he 
did it well. His character is such that even though he hide him- 
self he cannot do iniquity. Therefore say like the patriarch Job, 
Though he slay me yet u: id I trust in him. Thus acting you shall 
understand the meaning of the Saviour's words, What I do thou 
hiowest not novj, hut thou shalt know hereafter. 



Macao, Dec. 1, 1844, 



SEEMON XXXV. 



INVITATION" TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man 
thirst, let him come unto me and drink. — John vil 37. 

The Jews had three great feasts in every year. The passover 
was held in the first month of the sacred year, in commemoration 
of the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt. The 
feast of weeks was held seven weeks after the passover, and was 
commonly called from that circumstance, the Pentecost, or fiftieth 
day. It was observed as a time of thanksgiving for the law given 
fifty days after they left Egypt. The feast of tabernacles was held 
in the seventh month of the sacred year, which was the last of 
the civil year ; hence it is sometimes called the feast in the end of 
the year, Exod. xxiii. 16. The special object of this feast was to 
remember the goodness of God to their forefathers, while they 
dwelt in tabernacles in the wilderness, in memory of which the 
Jews were commanded to pass the seven days of the feast in 
booths. It was also intended as a feast of thanksgiving for the 
fruits of the ground which were then all safely gathered in, and 
stored away for the winter. On this account it was sometimes 
called, the feast of ingathering, Exod. xxiii. 14. 

In each of these feasts all the males in the land were required 
to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem ; and the numbers that 
were often collected there almost surpass belief. It is recorded 
by Josephus that several millions of people were assembled at Je- 
rusalem at some of these feasts. 

Although the passover was probably the most solemn of all 
the feasts of the Jews, yet none seems to have been more care- 
fully observed than the feast of tabernacles, concerning which 
mention is made in the text. It was a time of gratitude for all 
the goodness of God to their fathers in the wilderness, and of 
praise for all the mercies they had received from him during the 



INVITATION" TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



309 



year then closing. It was the general thanksgiving day of the 
nation, a time of gladness, and of sending of portions one to ano- 
ther. It was concerning this feast, that the Lord said, Thou shalt 
rejoice in thy feast, thou and thy son and thy daughter, and thy man- 
servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the 
fatherless, and the widow that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt 
thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the 
Lord shall choose ; because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine 
increase, and in all the works of thine hands ; therefore thou shalt 
surely rejoice, Deut. xvi. 14, 15. 

The last day of the feast of tabernacles was the great day of the 
feast. It was the last of all the feast days of the year — it was the 
closing act of praise to God for unnumbered mercies. It is prob- 
able also that the sacrifices and services of that day had peculiar 
reference to their expected Saviour. The sacrifices were not so 
numerous on that day as on the preceding days. On the first day 
thirteen bullocks were offered in sacrifices ; on the second twelve, 
on the third eleven, and thus down to the seventh, on which 
seven were offered, and on the eighth only one. By this it might 
have been intended to signify that the multiplied sacrifices and 
ceremonies of the Mosaic-law must gradually give way and be 
abolished ; while the one offering of Christ should perfect forever 
them that believe. If this were the intention, there was a pe- 
culiar propriety in calling it, the great day of the feast. 

On this day the multitude in the temple was the greatest ; 
from all parts of the land they came. The high and the low, the 
rich and the poor, were there, and they had a solemn assembly, ac- 
cording to the manner, Num. xxix. 35 ; Neh. viii. 18. 

Our Saviour too was there. Curiosity was awake concerning 
him, for already his fame had spread far and near. He had not 
gone up to the feast at its commencement, and his absence had 
excited surprise, John vii. 11. But in the midst of the feast he 
came, went boldly up to the temple and taught. The people 
wondered, and crowded around to hear him; but the Phar- 
isees were enraged and sent men to take him. But his hour was 
not yet come, and he continued unmoved and unharmed at his 
post. He was the theme of endless curiosity and remark. 

Learned men tell us, that among the ceremonies of that day, 
one of the most imposing and interesting was, the pouring out of 
water before the altar of the Lord. The priests went down in 
their priestly robes, and drew water from the fountain of Siloam 



310 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



in a golden vessel, and as they poured it out at the foot of the 
altar, the multitude waved their palm-branches and sang the 
song of Isaiah, Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be 
afraid ; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and song ; he also is be- 
come my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of 
the wells of salvation, Is. xii. 2,3. 

It would seem that it was about the time of the performance 
of this interesting ceremony that our Saviour uttered the words 
of our text. He took his stand in a conspicuous place in the 
temple, and lifting up his voice, he cried, If any man thirst, let 
him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scrip- 
tures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 

The blessings of salvation are often compared to streams of 
water, and those who need and desire salvation, are said to thirst 
after these streams. This is a favorite comparison of our Saviour's, 
and if we divest the expression of its figurative dress, his mean- 
ing in the passage before us is, that he is able, willing and 
ready to bestow salvation upon every one who will apply to him 
for it. Let us consider, 

I. To whom the invitation is addressed. If any man 
thirst. There is no exception or limitation here. Christ did not 
stand in a corner, or speak in a whisper, when he uttered these 
words. He did not speak to one more than to another, but he 
lifted up his voice so that all might hear. The multitude were 
there. They saw the sparkling waters of Siloam, as they were 
poured out at the foot of the altar, and rolled along the marble 
floor of the temple court. They thought of the streams from the 
rock which had supplied their fathers in the desert, and of the 
early and the latter rain, in their own favored land, which had 
filled their brooks, and caused their springs to overflow. For 
these they had given thanks, and Christ now calls their attention 
to the still greater blessings, even the living waters he had to be- 
stow. Their minds were too apt to be satisfied with the water 
they then possessed, and to desire nothing better than the streams 
of the earthly Canaan. Like the woman of Samaria, when the 
Son of God spoke to her of living water, she thought but of water 
to quench her bodily thirst. But Christ's wish was to turn their 
minds to higher than mere earthly blessings. If any man drank 
of this water, he must thirst again, aye, and die too ; for their 
fathers who had eaten the manna, and drank the water from the 
rock in the desert, were all dead ; but Christ had that to bestow, 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



311 



which, should be in them a well of water springing up to everlasting 
life, John iv. 14. 

If any man thirst. It matters not who. Be he high or low, 
be he rich or poor, the only qualification Christ requires, is that 
he be thirsty ; that he desire a blessing. Doubtless our Saviour 
had in mind, that precious invitation in Isaiah, Ho every one that 
thirsteth, come ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money ; come ye, 
buy and eat ; yea come, buy wine and milk without money, and with- 
out price, Is. lv. 1. 

This invitation is a public and a loud one. Both not wisdom 
cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She crieth at the 
gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors ; unto you, 
oh men, I call ; and my voice is to the sons of men, Pro v. viii. 1-4 ; 
see i. 20, 21 ; ix. 1-4. It is made in every variety of form, if so 
be men will hear it. The Spirit and the bride say, come. And let 
him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come ; and 
whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely, Eev. xxii. 17. 

It is an earnest call. Grod forbid we should think he maketh 
any call not sincerely. He describes himself after the manner 
of men, as rising up early and sending his prophets and messen- 
gers, Jer. xxv. 4. He sends them everywhere to proclaim his 
message, telling them to go even to the highways and hedges, 
and to use so much earnestness with men as even to compel them 
to come in, Luke xiv. 23. 

He hath enough for all. The fountain Christ has opened, is 
not like the fountains we see on earth, where only a few can be 
supplied at once, while others must stand and wait, or even 
return empty away. Were the whole world to come, here flows 
enough to satisfy them all. Were all nations to crowd around at 
once, still we should say, And yet there is room. The merits of 
Christ are unspeakable ; the salvation he procured is an infinite 
salvation. Therefore, let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord 
there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption, Ps. cxxx. 7. 

Were Jesus Christ a man like ourselves, his righteousness 
could not profit us. He would need it all for himself. But he is 
not a man as we are. The union of the Godhead with his man- 
hood, gave his person an. infinite dignity, and his sufferings an 
infinite value. This whole world is lost, yet no other sacrifice is 
needed to atone for every sin, and procure eternal life for all. 
By one offering, he perfects forever them that are sanctified, Heb. 
x. 14. 



312 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHKIST. 



The offer of Christ in the text is a universal offer. If any 
man thirst, let Mm come. 

The sensation of thirst, is one that every person must have 
experienced. It has diffetent degrees of intensity, and always 
produces a desire for that which shall allay it. When we are 
long deprived of water, the sensation becomes one of the most 
painful we ever feel. Even hunger is not so tormenting. Every 
power of the body fails, the strength is exhausted, the eyes 
become dim, the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth, and 
unless the thirst be quenched, death soon comes. When suffer- 
ing from long-continued and excessive thirst, there is no sacrifice 
we would not make to quench it. Kingdoms have been sold for 
a draught from the cooling stream. True, such painful thirst is 
not often felt, but thirst in any degree is unpleasant, and excites 
the desire for something to satisfy the want that is felt. 

And who has not felt this thirst, in spiritual things ? Who, 
that has been born in a Christian land, does not feel that he is 
naturally in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is ? Ps. lxiii. 1. 
Who, that has thought at all of his own condition, does not know 
that he is naturally far from God, the fountain of righteousness, 
and all true delights ? Who does not feel that he needs some- 
thing which he has not naturally, ere he can satisfy all the desires 
of his soul, and his aspirations after blessedness ? Who does not 
make frequent efforts to satisfy these desires ? Some, nay, most 
men seek, and for the time satisfy themselves by seeking, in mere 
outward forms and external services, that which shall quiet the 
thoughts of a future life, which arise in their hearts ; and many 
there be, who, by such means, succeed in repressing the uneasy 
emotions of conscience. 

To all such is the invitation of Christ addressed, though, 
alas ! they seldom hear it. You are thirsty — you desire eternal 
life — you would avoid the wrath of Grod, and though for the 
present your thirst is somewhat quenched, it is not satisfied. To 
you is the word of this salvation sent. To you I repeat the 
words of Christ, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 
You have been told of your need, and your conscience responds 
to the truth of what has been said. What excuse now can you 
make, for not accepting of the invitation ? A fountain is opened, 
streaming abundantly, and you are urged to come and partake. 
Turn not aside from these cool, flowing streams — from this 
exhaustless fountain. Seek not to quench your thirst at other 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



313 



streams, for, though, you may succeed for a moment, it will but 
aggravate your pains in the end. 

But there are some who feel this thirst more sensibly. There 
are some who have more deeply considered their own condition, 
and felt their own wants. There are some who are sensible that 
they are in a dry and thirsty land ; who have gone to every 
fountain opened by men, or of their own discovery, and have 
returned unsatisfied ; and who are convinced that, unless they 
obtain the water of everlasting life, they must perish forever. 
Like the stricken deer, wounded and pursued by the hunters, 
that longs for the cooling brooks, they are fleeing from the 
wrath of God, which seems armed against them, and earnestly 
desire to find the shelter and the refreshment of the protected 
spring. They are such as have seen that, except in God's mercy, 
there is no shelter from God's wrath ; and with the Psalmist, their 
cry is, As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul 
after thee, God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, Ps. 
xlii. 12. This desire after God and his salvation, is one that 
excites to action, and to efforts to obtain it. The thirsty man 
does not satisfy himself with mere desires for water, he uses 
every exertion to obtain it, convinced that he must obtain it or 
die. Thus, too, acts the man who feels this spiritual thirst. His 
language is again the language of the Psalmist, God, thou art 
my God: early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh 
longethfor thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no icater is; to see 
iky power and glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary, Ps. lxiii. 
12. Early and late does he seek God, if so be he may be gracious 
to him. With earnest prayer does he call upon him, if he may 
thereby obtain the blessing he desires. / stretch forth my hands 
unto thee ; my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land, Ps. 
cxliii. 6. 

Is there any one here present that thus thirsts after God ? 
Do you feel your need, and long to have it supplied ? Do you 
lift up your hands with prayer to God ? Then to you is the 
invitation of Christ addressed. Do not make excuses. Do not 
say, "I do not feel thirsty enough. I am not fit to come. My 
desires are not strong enough." There are different degrees of 
thirst, but who thinks of waiting till he is perishing, before he 
drinks ? There are different degrees of intensity of desire after 
salvation, but Christ has nowhere said how strong those desires 
must be. Do you desire at all ? That is sufficient. Are you 



314 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



thirsty at all? Then hear the invitation, Ho, every one that 
thirsteth, come ye to the waters ; for it is Christ himself who says, 

If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 
Let us consider, 

II. THE INVITATION ITSELF. 

Come unto me, and drink. You have been desirous of happi- 
ness, and have long been seeking it. Your soul has thirsted, and. 
you have endeavored to quench that thirst, but where have you 
sought to do so ? It may be in yourselves, but the vainest of 
mortals must confess, that alone he is not sufficient for his own 
happiness. You have sought it, perhaps, in the society of friends, 
and the delights of the domestic circle. Far be it from me to 
speak disparagingly of these. Well do I know that there are no 
sweeter earthly enjoyments than those of family and friends — but 
who knows not that few are so uncertain ? Who knows not, by 
painful experience, that the friend we love most, may be the first 
that is taken from us ? Who knows not the anxieties connected 
with those that remain ? You have sought for happiness in lite- 
rary pursuits, in the arena of political contest, among the quick- 
sands of mercantile business. It may be you have gone lower 
down, and sought for it among baser pursuits and sensual gratifi- 
cations. Have you found the object of your search ? And are 
you satisfied now ? Does no longing desire arise in your bosoms, 
which you feel cannot be gratified by such enjoyments as these ? 
Alas ! they are but broken cisterns at best. In vain will you 
attempt to satiate an immortal soul with such feeble, transient, 
summer-like brooks as these. The streams are impure and small 
at best, and though you drink even to repletion, yet you thirst 
again. Search creation round, and if you are honest with your 
own hearts, you will say with the disciples at last, Lord, to whom 
shall we go f Thou hast the words of eternal life, John vi. 68. 

Come therefore unto Christ. Come out of yourselves. Re- 
nounce utterly all dependence on your own merits and righteous- 
ness, even as the apostle Paul did, (Phil, iii.) Come away from 
the vanities of the world. Cease to expect pleasure from the 
sparkling fountains that murmur and play around you. You 
cannot serve God and mammon. You cannot enjoy the pleas- 
ures of this world, and the sense of Cod's favor. If the cross of 
Christ be borne at all, it must be borne alone. And why should 
any man wish to combine the service of Cod with that of the 
world ? Is the service of the world so pleasant, and its rewards 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



315 



so rich, that we should covet them, when we have applied for a 
place among the followers of Christ ? Is not his service and the 
rewards he offers sufficient to satisfy every desire ? 

He can supply all your wants, and he has promised to do it. 
Hear him saying in Isaiah, When the poor and needy seek water, 
and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will 
hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open riv- 
ers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will 
make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water, 
Is. xli. 17, 18. And again he says, / will pour zuater upon him 
that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground ; I will pour my Spirit 
upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring, Is. xliv. 3. 

It need scarcely be said, that under this comparison of water, 
all the blessings of Christ's salvation are intended, and of those 
blessings, the chief is the pardon of sin, which we obtain through 
the sacrifice of Christ, and the shedding of his blood for sin. It 
was in reference to this sacrifice, and its effects in procuring the 
pardon of sin, that Christ said, My flesh is meat indeed, and my 
blood is drink indeed, John v. 54-58. Another, and equally im- 
portant blessing, intended by our Saviour, was the gift of the 
Holy Spirit, to quicken our souls, to strengthen us in duty, to 
sanctify our natures, and prepare us for heaven ; and it was this 
gift of the Spirit that he had in mind chiefly when he uttered the 
words of the text ; for in the next verse it is said, This spake he 
of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive. 

These blessings, the pardon of sin, and the gift of the Holy 
Spirit, are those which of all others we most need, and for which 
the convinced sinner and the established Christian chiefly long, 
and these we obtain only from Christ. How much are we bound 
to give thanks to God, that the fountain which was once opened 
only to the Jews, is now made accessible to all nations, and that 
we Gentiles are invited to come and partake with them. The 
Gentiles now come from the ends of the earth — for the call is to 
every one that thirsteth — and all who come are made alike wel- 
come. 

And as this invitation is universal, so it is free. You need 
bring no price in your hands. The fountain is flowing, and you 
have but to come and to ask ; for he who calls you to come, says 
also, / loill give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water 
of life freely, Eev. xxi. 6. 

Are there any here present, who thirst for living streams, but 



316 



INVITATION TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



have not yet obtained ? Your case is one of peculiar interest, 
and of peculiar danger. You desire life, and be assured your de- 
sire must be satisfied in some way. But the danger is, that the 
great adversary of souls, aware of your desire, and fearful lest you 
should escape his grasp, should tempt you to drink of the foun- 
tains he himself has opened, and forget him who alone can supply 
your need. Beware lest in an evil hour you consent to his allure- 
ments, and satisfy yourselves with anything less than, or other 
than Christ. A greater sin you cannot commit, nor one more 
likely to incur the just displeasure of the compassionate Saviour. 
Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of 
the field f or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place 
he forgotten f Jer. xviii. 14. You feel your need — come to the 
fountain opened, while it is opened, and grieve not the Spirit, and 
the Saviour who sends the Spirit, by longer delay. Be assured 
of a hearty welcome when you come, and if doubts or fears arise 
in your hearts, bring them to the Saviour, and plead his own 
promise, as the reason why you come. He will not cast you out, 
nor reject your plea. Fellow-Christian, you have already drank 
of this fountain, and know its sweetness. But you have need to 
come to it constantly, and the oftener you come, the more you 
shall delight in it. Apply to the Saviour daily, and he will give 
you the water of life, which shall refresh you in your pilgrimage 
through this weary, thirsty land. Be satisfied with this alone, 
and daily desire larger measures of it. Blessed are they ivhich do 
hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall he filled, Matt. v. 6. 

But beware that you seek not to satisfy your desires at any 
other fountain. To whom can you go but to the Saviour ? It 
was a sore complaint that God made of his ancient people, My 
people have committed two evils / they have forsaken me, the fountain 
of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can 
hold no water, Jer. ii. 13. To say nothing of the evil of this 
course, of seeking for happiness in. any but in God alone (though 
that should affect you deeply), it is one most destructive to all 
your own peace and happiness. If you are God's children, he 
will not suffer you to find happiness, except in himself alone. He 
is jealous for his own honor and prerogatives, and }^ou shall glo- 
rify him most, and consult your own good most, by coming to 
him, constantly and alone. 

Macao, December 15, 1844. 



SERMON XXXVI 



UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 
Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. — John v. 40. 

The invitations of the gospel are numerous, loud, earnest, and 
tender. All men without exception, are invited to come unto 
the Saviour, and obtain eternal life, and it cannot be supposed 
that these invitations are not sincere on God's part. "Warnings 
and reproofs are directed against those who will not come, and 
everything in the Scriptures tends to show us, that life and death, 
blessing and cursing, are set before us, that we may choose life, 
and live forever, Deut. xxx. 19. 

And yet, in all ages of the world, the mass of mankind have 
heard the offers of life, and passed them by in silent neglect, or 
open contempt. When our Lord appeared in person on the 
earth, though many believed on him. the mass of the nation re- 
jected him. He came unto Ms oicn, and his own received him not \ 
John i. 11. His apostles had great success, and by their preach- 
ing, great multitudes became convinced of the truth and were 
saved. And yet, in every place, those who hardened themselves, 
and refused to believe, were more than those who received the 
truth. So it has been down to the present time. There is not a 
nation in the Old World, from the shores of Africa that border 
on the Atlantic ocean, to the extremities of the Chinese empire, 
that has not heard the gospel, and yet how few of the nations are 
Christian nations. And even among the nations of Christendom — 
among those who profess to worship the only true God, and Jesus 
Christ whom he has sent — how few comparatively can be said to 
worship him in truth. Who knows not that in every Christian 
land there are thousands upon thousands, who are ignorant of 
God ? Who knows not the wickedness that prevails in Christian 
lands, of which the heathen cannot be guilty, seeing they have 
not so much light to sin against ? 



318 



UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



Why is it, that among nominal Christians, who hear and pro- 
fess to believe the gospel, there are so few that really deserve the 
Christian name ? Men hear the invitations of the gospel. They 
acknowledge the folly of living in sin ; the dreadful end that 
awaits those who thus live ; they acknowledge the duty and the 
reasonableness of God's service, and the excellence of the rewards 
he offers. Why are there so few that embrace that service, and 
have respect unto that recompense of reward ? 

Various excuses are given by men, for neglecting religion. It 
is not possible to see the truth so clearly as even our natural rea- 
son shows it, and act contrary thereto without some twinges of 
self-condemnation, and a seeking for some excuse to palliate the 
crime. It was the object of some of our Saviour's parables to 
show the folly of the common excuses, Luke xiv. 16. 

Our Saviour knew what was in man, John iii. 24. He could 
see every secret emotion of the heart, and could tell precisely 
why men did not come to him for life. In the words of the text 
he has by one single sentence flashed light upon the true reason. 
Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. Or as it might have 
been more literally rendered, Ye do not wish; ye are unwilling to 
come [ovdelexi]. He says to every man who does not come unto 
him, and engage heartily in his service, " Whatever the reasons, 
you offer for not coming, the true reason is in yourselves." It is 
not in God's eternal decrees, of which as respects yourself, you 
know nothing. It is not in the salvation procured by Christ's 
death, which is sufficient for all ; nor in the offers of mercy, which 
are free to all. It is not in the weakness or unfitness of the in- 
strument, who preaches to you and calls you to come. It is in 
yourselves, in your own unwillingness ye will not come to me, that 
ye might have life. 

The doctrine of the text, therefore, is this. That the reason 
why men are not saved, is solely because they are opposed to the 
truth and do not wish to be saved by Christ. It follows as a 
necessary consequence, that this opposition and unwillingness is 
highly criminal, and deserves the punishment that will certainly 
be inflicted on that account. 

There are some who will deem it a very strange and almost 
absurd remark to say, " Men do not wish to be saved." Do not 
all men desire to escape the damnation of hell ? Do not all men 
wish to be saved from the wrath to come ? Yes, verily, but this 
is a very small part of Christ's salvation. Not only does he save 



UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



319 



from the wrath of God, but also from the sin that incurs that 
wrath. To be saved by Christ, implies not merely to be deliv- 
ered from the punishment of sin, but from sin itself. "To be 
saved" means to be made holy, by mortifying every sin, by living 
a life of meekness, humility, self-denial, engagedness in God's 
service, communion with him, and conformity to his image. 
Without this total change of the whole heart and life, heaven it- 
self would be little better than the regions of despair, Now it is 
not absurd to say, that if this is salvation, then men do not wish 
to be saved ; and that men are opposed to the truth and unwilling 
to come to Christ to be thus saved, appears both from universal 
experience, and the explicit declarations of the Scriptures. 

Look over the world, a ad where is the perfect man to be 
found ? Where can we find one child of Adam who has never 
sinned, and does not daily sin ? Whose conscience does not ac- 
cuse him of numberless transgressions of God's law ? The com- 
mon proverbs of all nations show it. One of the commonest say- 
ings, where the English language is spoken is, " We all have our 
faults" — and the most thoughtful are they who most readily ad- 
mit its truth. I have conversed with an intelligent and educated 
Chinese, who had never read the Christian Scriptures, and though 
their own classical books proclaim the purity of man's nature, he 
admitted in the fullest manner, that he had never seen a man who 
did not daily sin, nor did he think there was such a man in the 
world. 

How is this universal sinfulness of men and opposition to the 
truth to be accounted for, if men do not wilfully sin ? Can it # 
be supposed that God has made it necessary that we should sin ? 
God forbid ! The holiness of his character, and his utter abhor- 
rence of all sin, render such a supposition impossible. Can it be 
supposed that God has given Satan power, or that he even per- 
mits him, to lead us to sin against our own consent ? If we ab- 
horred sin in our hearts, can it be conceived possible, that the 
great enemy of God and man, would be allowed to force us to 
commit it, and thus depart from God? Far be the thought from 
us ! Would you who are parents suffer one of your children to 
be led away from you, and forced to do what is abhorred, while 
it held out its hands, and begged you to save it ? How much 
less can we suppose that God who is kinder as well as more 
powerful than any earthly parent, would suffer Satan to lead one 
of his creatures captive at his own will, and contrary to the will 



320 UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHEIST. 

of the creature ? No, it is because men love sin that they com- 
mit it. It is because they roll it as a sweet morsel under their 
tongue, that Satan has power to tempt them to it. Salvation 
from sin is offered unto men. Why are men not saved from sin ? 
Can it be thought that God would offer men salvation if he did 
not wish them to be saved, and was not sincere in his offers ? 
Ear be the thought from us. We take the offer on the part of 
God, as ample proof of his willingness and sincerity, — and with 
shame acknowledge that the only reason why men are not saved 
from sin, is that they do not wish to be saved from it. Because, 
if salvation from sin were possible, and the offer of salvation were 
made to all, then the simple fact that any were not saved, would 
show the reason to be, that they did not wish to be saved. 

The offer of life and salvation was made to God's ancient peo- 
ple, in the fullest manner possible. They had seen all God's won- 
ders in the wilderness, and his mighty acts and his long-suffering 
and tender mercy ; and Moses had said to them, I call heaven and 
earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and 
death, blessing and cursing ; therefore choose life, that both thou and 
thy seed may live, Deut. xxx. 19. Did they choose life? Did 
they desire the blessing? Did they cleave to the Lord? Far 
from it. God complains of them, My people would not hearken 
unto my voice, Israel would none of me, Ps. lxxxi. 11. When Christ 
came to the world, he came to his own peculiar people. They 
had long been looking for and desiring his coming ; and when 
John the Baptist came to prepare his way, they all went out and 
were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins, Matt. iii. 5. 
They saw the miracles of Christ, and wondered at the purity of 
his life, and holiness of his doctrine. They beheld his com- 
passion, and his love, and heard his invitations to come unto 
him ; if wear}^ and heavy-laden he besought them to come to him 
and obtain rest ; if thirsty, to come to him and drink ; if hungry, 
to come to him and eat. Did they come ? Alas, no ! and to de- 
scribe their conduct, he spake a parable. The kingdom of heaven 
is like unto a certain king ivhich made a marriage for his son, and 
sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the ivedding ; 
and they would not come, Matt. xxii. 23, and when he sent again 
to call them, they made light of it. Some simply neglecting the 
call, and others treating with indignity, with scorn, and even with 
death, the messengers he sent. He was willing to save them, but 
they were not willing to be saved. Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, said 



UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



321 



the compassionate Saviour, thou that Tallest the prophets and stonest 
them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy 
children together , even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, 
and ye would not, Matt, xxiii. 37. 

The experience of our Saviour of the unwillingness of men to 
be saved, has been the experience of all his ministers in the 
world. All clay long we stretch forth our hands to a disobedient and 
gainsaying people ; and with the prophet of old, we must cry, Who 
hath believed our report, a,nd to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 
Is. Hii. 1. What is the reason of this? It is given by our Lord 
in these words, This is the condemnation, that light is come into the 
world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds 
were evil, John iii. 19. This is the true reason; the rejection of 
the gospel by men ; is a wilful rejection. The heart is utterly 
averse to holiness. It loves sin, and because salvation by Christ 
is not to be procured without a renunciation of sin, and a constant 
effort after holiness, men will have nothing to do with it. Nay, 
even the adorable Saviour, with all his perfections, becomes an 
object of hatred because he testifies of the world that its works are 
evil, John vii. 7. True, men say, " We do not hate the Saviour — 
we love to think of his character." Yes, and who does not, as 
long as you contemplate him only while going about and doing 
good? Who does not admire that compassion, that meekness, 
that perfect blamelessness of life which he exhibited ? Was there 
ever such a perfectly amiable character witnessed in the world ? 
As long as men consider only the amiability of our Saviour and 
his good works, no feelings arise in the heart save those of admira- 
tion, and almost of love. But consider his character more closely; 
listen to him as he requires sinless perfection, and commands you 
to be holy as your Father in heaven is holy. Hear hirn requiring 
you to take up the cross and follow him ; hear him requiring you 
to wear his yoke and be conformed to his image, to drink of the 
cup he drank, and be baptized with the baptism wherewith he 
was baptized, and are you as ready to admire and to love as be- 
fore? But he requires more than empty admiration and love. 
It is his command that you come unto him, enroll yourselves on 
his side, and do his will, and he adds, He that is not with me is 
against me, he that gathereth not for me scattereth abroad, Matt. xii. 
30. Alas, this is too hard a requirement for men, and hence our 
Saviour's declaration, Ye ivill not come to me thai ye might have life. 

But this unwillingness to come unto Christ is yet more deeply 
21 



322 



UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



rooted and obstinate than it at first appears. It amounts to actual 
enmity against God and his salvation. What saith the apostle ? 

The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law 
of God, neither indeed can be, Eom. viii. 7. True, men demur to 
this. They say, "Although we may not be engaged in God's 
service, yet certainly we are not his enemies. We do not oppose 
him." But remember the words of Christ, He that is not with me 
is against me. There is no middle course. The service of Satan, 
or the service of God. You cannot combine the two, and if you 
are not on God's side, you are against him. Doth not the apostle 
say, The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever 
therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God, James iv. 4. 
Ye cannot serve two masters. Ye cannot serve God and Mam- 
mon, and the practical choice of the world, which most men 
make, is in fact a declaration of hostility against God. It is a 
renunciation of his lawful authority, a positive preference for that 
which he abhors, an overt act of treason against the Creator. He 
has sent his own Son to offer pardon and invite your return, and 
what is his reception ? A civil hearing of his message, a decorous 
attention to the words of his ministers, perhaps an avoidance of 
the grosser acts of opposition to him, but still a pertinacious ad- 
herence to the world. And this unwillingness to turn to God — 
this disinclination to accept of Christ's salvation — this preference 
for the world — is so strong that it amounts to an absolute inability 
to turn to God, and is so represented in the Scriptures. Can the 
Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye also 
do good that are accustomed to do evil, Jer. xiii. 23. 

It is this settled preference for the world, and opposition to 
God's service, which prevents men from coming to Christ, and 
indeed makes it impossible that they should. Hence our Saviour 
said, No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me 
draw him, John vi. 44. 

But is this inability any excuse ? Dare any man plead the 
fact that he dislikes God's service so much, and prefers that of 
the world so strongly, that he cannot choose to be on the Lord's 
side, as any excuse for his conduct ? It is rather an aggravation 
of the crime, and would be so considered in any court of justice 
on the earth. For example. It is related of Joseph's brethren, 
that when they saw the favor their father bare him they hated him, 
and could not speak peaceably to him, Gen. xxxvii. 4. Was their 
inability to speak peaceably to their brother any excuse ? Did it 



UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHEIST. 



323 



not rather involve them in deeper criminality? Even so our 
worldliness of heart, our opposition to the gospel, our unwilling- 
ness to come to Christ, our inability to engage in his service, all 
spring from the carnal mind which is enmity against God, and on 
that very account deserves the deeper condemnation. And this 
is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love 
darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, for every one 
that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his deeds 
should be reproved, John iii. 19, 20. 

The words of our Saviour in the text were spoken to the un- 
believing Jews, but they were not intended for them alone. They 
are spoken also to us, being left on record for our warning and 
instruction, and the truth they teach is as applicable in our days, 
as it was when Christ first spoke it. It is his own creatures 
whom he calls ; men who have all along been rebels and sinful, 
and worthy of death, rather than life. He has long borne with 
their follies and crimes, and sent many messengers to entreat them 
to return unto him. At length he comes in his own person, to 
offer salvation. Clothed in every attractive grace, he presents 
himself as an object worthy of our supreme regard. He holds 
up eternal life and blessedness, and by every motive urges us to 
come and secure it. In order to remove every obstacle out of our 
road, and make our coming possible, he gives himself up to 
death, and is lifted up between heaven and earth, that he may draw 
all men unto him, John iii. 14. How are these offers received ? 
how is this wonderful love and compassion regarded ? Do men 
flock in crowds, repenting of the sin that made such a sacrifice 
needful, and joyfully accepting of the proffered boon ? Far, far 
from it ! Yery strange indeed is the complaint we hear from the 
Saviour's lips, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. Every 
obstacle on God's part is removed. JSTo flaming sword now guards 
the way to the tree of life. No fiery cherubim prevent us from 
plucking its fruits ; a highway is prepared, and we are com- 
manded to walk therein and be saved, and yet men are unwil- 
ling to come ! Other excuses may be given, but this is the real 
reason, and for this we shall be judged. 

1. What are we to think of such a rejection of the offers of 
mercy ? How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? 
It was spoken to us at first by the Lord himself, it has been con- 
firmed to us by innumerable witnesses and partakers, and con- 
science has added her voice, to swell the amount of evidence. Is 



324 UNWILLINGNESS TO COME UNTO CHRIST. 



not this unwillingness to come, a thing to be deeply abhorred and 
repented of? and should we not fear lest it draw down upon us 
(rod's heavy anger ? 

2. Let us also adore the grace and long-suffering of God, that 
bears so long with us, and still holds out the offers of mercy. 
Man would not so patiently wait. No earthly potentate would 
offer favors, after they had been so often rejected. But God's 
ways are not as man's ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. 
Mercy still guides his hand, and grace is still poured into the lips 
of our compassionate Saviour ; and in despite of all our unwill- 
ingness, he often saves men from their sins. How far-reaching is 
that grace, which, stooping from the eternal throne of God, and 
stretching beneath even the desperate wickedness and unwilling- 
ness of the human heart, raises any of our race to the fellowship 
of the saints in light, and the inheritance of the sons of God ! 
Truly herein is one of the greatest mysteries of the gospel. Thy 
people shall be willing in the day of thy power, Ps. ex. 3. Without 
doing violence to our natures, the power and grace of God sweet- 
ly constrain men to renounce their opposition and come unto the 
Saviour ; and nothing less than divine power can do it. How 
does the apostle heap up words to describe that power ! He tells 
us that it is the exceeding greatness of his poioer io us-ward, who be- 
lieve according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought 
in Christ when he raised him from the dead, Eph. i. 19, 20. 

Finally, let us learn hence, where our strength lieth, and what 
is our hope. We cannot, and we will not come unto Christ of 
ourselves, and in this inability and unwillingness lies our sin. 
Yet if we come not, we perish. Let us then prostrate ourselves 
before God, and plead the prayer of" the church in the Song of 
Solomon, Draw us, we will run after thee, Cant. i. 4. The sense of 
our own sinfulness, helplessness, and need, should constrain us 
thus to come. The promises and the calls of Christ should cause 
us to hasten our escape, and the sight of so many that have thus 
been saved, should encourage your hearts with the hope of simi- 
lar success. Him that cometh unto me, says our Saviour, I will in 
no wise cast out, John vi. 37. 

Macao, December 22, 1844. 



SERMON XXXVII 

OUR TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 
My times are in thy hand. — Ps. xxxi 15. 

The life of David, the king of Israel, was long a most wan- 
dering, unsettled, and perilous one. Innocent of any crime, he 
was yet persecuted by envious and wicked men, and by the malice 
of Saul, was hunted like a partridge in the mountains. He was 
ofttimes in imminent danger of his- life, so that he could justly 
say, There is hut a step between me and death. Then for a little 
season, deliverance came, and again he was brought lower than 
ever. Many and varied were the times that went over him, 1 Chron. 
xxix. 30, for his life was marked by changes, perils, and deliver- 
ances, such as few men have known. This thirty-first Psalm 
contains the record of his feelings amidst the changing times of 
his life, and it is worthy of careful remark, how amidst all his 
changing times and varied troubles he puts his trust in God, and 
looks to him for shelter. 

In thee, oh Lord, do I put my trust, 

Thou art my rock and my fortress. 

Into thy hand I commit my spirit, 

I trusted in thee, oh Lord. 
To him the doctrine of God's superintending, and all directing 
and controlling providence, was no empty notion. It was to him 
a living reality. He had seen God's hand stretched out for his 
defence. He had felt his everlasting arms beneath him for his 
support. It was his soul's desire and his heartfelt prayer, that he 
might ever repose under the shadow of the Almighty, and in so 
doing he experienced a peace and confidence which none of his 
enemies knew, and which were utter strangers to the bosom of 
the jealous Saul. 

The words of the text, coming from such a man as he, are 
worthy of careful consideration, and especially so, when the 



326 



OUK TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



change of times, and the revolution of years, turn our thoughts 
to the conditions of our mortal life. Since we last met in this 
place, one year has passed away, and another has come in its 
place. The times, and seasons, and events of our life are con- 
stantly changing, and as wise men, it is our duty to reflect upon 
them, and while time is given to us, so to use it as not abusing it. 
My times are in thy hand. By times, David doubtless meant all 
the events of his life, at whatever time they had occurred, or might 
occur, and by saying his times were in God's hands, that all that 
related to him was completely under God's control. In other 
words, he expressed the idea, that nothing happened to him by 
blind chance, or fate; but that everything respecting him was 
subject to the direction of his Creator. This is a truth not limited 
in its application to David alone. The Scriptures abundantly 
testify, that the times — all times, of all men — are in God's hand ; 
and this will become evident, by considering some of the particu- 
lar times of our lives, which are so. 

I. The time of a man's birth is in God's hand, and is appointed 
by him. And as the time of our birth is appointed by him, so 
he appoints the land of our nativity. It is not of blind chance 
or fate, that one man was born thousands of years ago, and others 
in this age. It is not a matter of chance, that one man is born in 
Africa, another in Europe or America, and others in China, Still 
less is it of any man's own choice, where his lot shall be cast. 
Eeason alone teaches us, that if God has a plan for the govern- 
ment of the world, he must appoint the time and place of men's 
birth. That he has a plan by which he governs the world, is 
most manifest, though we may not understand it in all its parts. 
That plan is carried on by men, and every man has a part to 
perform, but God has appointed to each his part. At times, he 
uses some, like Alaric the Goth, or Tamerlane, or Napoleon, to 
scourge the nations. Again, he raises others, like Moses, and 
Luther, and Newton, and Washington, to bless the world. Is it 
to be supposed that such men come into the world, and perform 
their part, without God's express appointment? Doth he not 
give to all life and breath, and all things, Acts xvii. 25, and can it 
be supposed that he who gives life, does not also appoint the time 
to live ? 

There is a time to be born, Ecc. iii. 2, and as times are not hidden 
from the Almighty, he must have foreseen the time of each, and 
foreseen it, because he appointed it. Nothing can be foreseen 



OUK TIMES IN" THE HAND OF GOD. 



327 



except what is certain, and nothing can be certain except what 
God hath appointed or decreed to permit. 

The Scripture shows this truth in reference to particular per- 
sons. The birth of Isaac happened at the set time, when God 
promised that it should, Gen. xvii. 21. The barren Shunamite 
bore a son, at the set time, when God, by his prophet, foretold it, 
2 Kings iv. 6. Frequently too, God foretold the birth of indi- 
vidual persons, and sometimes, even mentioned their names, long 
before they had an existence in the world. Josiah, the king of 
Judah, and Cyrus, the king of Persia, are examples of this, 
1 Kings xiii. 2 ; Is. xliv. 28. It might be said indeed, that these 
are only cases of eminent persons, of whom it may very well be 
supposed that the time of their birth is fixed ; but that the same 
cannot be said of the mass of mankind, who fill unimportant 
stations, and of whom it is scarcely worth while that God should 
trouble himself to appoint the time of their entrance into the 
world. But this is speaking of God according to our own weak- 
ness, and degrading him to a level, with ourselves. Although 

" Like leaves on trees the race of men are found," 

yet each separate leaf has a separate page in God's eternal book, 
nor is it a weariness and a trouble to him to determine the times 
before appointed, and the hounds of the habitation of each, Acts xvii. 
26. If he has appointed the time for the birth of one, he could 
with equal ease, appoint the times of all mankind, nor could his 
perfect plan of government be duly carried out without such an 
appointment. 

We infer therefore, that since he can with ease appoint the 
time of each man to be born, since he hath certainly appointed 
the time of some, and since his plan requires that that of all be 
fixed, the time of our birth is in his hands. It should be with each 
of us, a matter of constant thanksgiving to God, that he has 
appointed the time and place of our birth as he has. It is related 
of a heathen sage, that he thanked the gods because his birth was 
in an age when philosophers lived, and not when all men were 
ignorant, and in the enlightened land of Greece, rather than in the 
more barbarous regions of the world. How much more should 
we give thanks to God, that our birth has been in a Christian 
land, and of Christian parents, and in an age so full of opportu- 
nities for obtaining all knowledge, and especially the knowledge 
of the true God. In respect to each of us, God hath determined 



328 



OUE TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



the times before appointed, and fixed the bounds of our habitation, so 
that we may seek him, and feel after him, and find him ; though he be 
not far from every one of us, Acts xvii. 26, 27. Without at all 
perverting or misapplying the words of our Saviour, it may be 
said to each of you, my hearers, Blessed are the eyes which see the 
things which ye see: for many prophets and righteous men have 
desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to 
hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them, Luke x. 23, 
24. But I exhort you also to make good' use of the privileges, 
the opportunities for acquiring knowledge, and the means of 
grace, which the time of your birth and the land of your nativity 
have put in your power. More is given to us, than to many 
others, and more will be expected of us. To whomsoever much is 
given, of him shall be much required: and to wliom men have com- 
mitted much, of him will they ash the more, Luke xii. 48. 

II. Our time to die is also in God's hand, and is appointed by 
him. It is one of the great characteristics of God, that he killeth, 
and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up, 
1 Sam. ii. 6. Hence Job said, In his hand is the soul of every living 
thing, and the breath of all mankind, Job xii. 10. To us, nothing 
seems more uncertain, and nothing is more uncertain, than the 
time of our death. ISTo man has any assurance of his life. What 
is your life t It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and 
then vanisheth away, James iv. 14. Hence the exhortation of the 
wise man, Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what 
a day may bring forth, Pro v. xxvii. 1. No man has any assurance 
of life, nor can he tell how long it may be prolonged. We see 
the feeblest spared, while the most promising are cut down. The 
experience of the past year in this place, should teach us how un- 
certain it is, that all of us shall see the beginning of the next new 
year. It is on this uncertainty of life, as it respects our knowl- 
edge of it, that many of our duties are founded. Hence it is that 
we are to be always ready and watching. Hence it is that we 
are not to place our hearts too much on the world, nor to count 
this our portion. Hence it is that we are to feel ourselves to be, 
and to act as strangers and pilgrims in the earth. Be ye ready, 
for at such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh, Luke 
xii. 40. 

But this uncertainty exists only in reference to ourselves. 
There is no uncertainty with God, for he knoweth all things. 
He who fixed the time and place of our birth, has also fixed the 



OUR TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



329 



time and manner of our death. His plan for the government of 
the world requires this. He brings men into the world to 
execute a part of his plan, and when their part is finished, he 
removes them to make way for others. 

That there is a time to die, Ecc. iii. 2 ; that it is appointed unto 
all men once to die, Heb. ix. 27, are truths that we learn from 
melancholy experience, without the aid of revelation. But the 
Scriptures distinctly teach us, that the time to die is in God's 
hand, and is appointed by him. Though men live to the age of 
the antediluvians ; though it might almost seem as if death had 
forgotten that some men were still alive; yet regarding every 
man, we must say, as said the patriarch Job, His days are deter- 
mined, the number of his months are with thee ; thou hast appointed 
his bounds, which he cannot pass, Job xiv. 5. Hence the expres- 
sions we meet so often in the Scriptures, referring to this appoint- 
ment of our times. Thus it is said of Jacob, The time drew nigh 
that Israel must die, Gen. xlvii. 29. God said to Moses, Behold, 
thy days approach that thou must die, Deut. xxxi. 14. David said 
concerning Saul, His time shall come to die, 1 Sam. xxvi. 10. God 
said to David, Thy days are fulfilled, 2 Sam. vii. 12, and Paul, by 
inspiration, said of himself, The time of my departure is at hand, 
2 Tim. iv. 6. 

Sometimes, as in the case of Aaron, the high priest, the 
announcement of the time to die is made beforehand, and the 
individual, with all due solemnity, gives up his soul into the 
hands of his Creator, Numb. xx. 24-28. Commonly, no such 
announcement is made, but in all cases there is an appointed time 
to man upon the earth, and his days are like the days of an hireling, 
Job vii. 1, who, for a certain and defined season, performs an 
appointed work. Hence the prayer of the Psalmist — and it is a 
prayer that every man living should daily offer — Lord, make me 
to know mine end, and the number of my days what it is, that I may 
knovj how frail I am, Ps. xxxix 4. 

Some are perplexed at this doctrine, and at a loss how to 
reconcile it with the use of means, and the benefit of prayer. 
Why should we pray for a thing which is already determined ? 
and use means to accomplish that, the end of which is already 
appointed ? But this perplexity arises from a misapprehension, 
or rather an utter confounding of things that differ. God's 
appointment of our time to die is shown from the Scripture and 
from reason to be certain, but the time of our death is not made 



330 



OUK TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



known to us. The same Scripture which makes known that 
there is such an appointment, also commands us to use the means 
to preserve our lives, and to offer prayers to God that they may 
be prolonged. The Scripture also tells us, that if God has deter- 
mined that any man shall live, he has also determined that he 
shall use the means to live. In all of God's decrees and appoint- 
ments, the means are inseparably connected with the end. It is 
our duty, therefore, to follow his revealed will, and use the means 
appropriate to preserve our life, and to ask for his blessing upon 
those means. If it be his will that we live, the prayer of faith 
will save the sick, and the means employed will prove efficacious 
for his recovery. If it be not his will that we live, no means can 
save us, and the phj^sician's care and skill will prove unavailing. 
But this does not excuse us from using the means. It is our 
duty to use them in all cases, and if we fail to use them, and .our 
friends die In consequence, the blame is ours. True, it is by 
God's appointment that he dies, but it is owing to our negligence. 
Whereas, if we use the means appropriate, and yet life is not 
granted, we have delivered ourselves from blame. It then 
becomes evident that it was not God's intention to spare life, and 
as we have done our duty, our conscience is at ease, and we bow 
to the sovereign will of God. 

This subject is well illustrated in the case of Hezekiah. He 
was sick of a disease, that, in the ordinary course of nature, 
would certainly take his life away, and even the skill of physi- 
cians could not cure him. God sent the prophet to inform him 
of it. Set thine house in order for thou shalt die, and not live. 
When Hezekiah received the message, he prayed earnestly that 
he might live. God heard his prayer, restored him to health, 
and added fifteen years to his life. God had determined to spare 
his life, but he had also determined to spare it in consequence of 
his prayer. And when he promised him fifteen additional years, 
Hezekiah, of course, knew perfectly well that, during those fif- 
teen years, he must still use the ordinary means to preserve his 
life. He could not presume, in consequence of that promise, to 
dispense with his daily food, or recklessly expose himself where 
duty did not call him to go. Whatever difficulty there may be 
in theory, to reconcile God's decrees with man's free agency, and 
the use of means, there never is any in practice. In all cases, 
the path of duty is plain, for that path is laid down in the 
revealed will. 



OUR TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



331 



This doctrine, that our time to die is in God's hand, and is 
appointed by him, is one that, when rightly viewed, affords great 
consolation to the Christian. As we have seen, it does not in 
the slightest degree interfere with the use of means, but rather 
gives encouragement to use them. It also bids us go forward in 
the path of duty, wherever it may lead us, without fear. Some 
are afraid if they engage in a particular occupation, or dwell in a 
certain place, their lives may be prematurely lost. But there is 
no call for fear, if the path of duty be plain. Go forward wher- 
ever duty calls, for your times are in God's hand, and if he has a 
work for you to do, he will preserve you till it is finished. It 
was well said by the poet, 

" Man is immortal till his -work is done." 

God will call no man from the world as long as his work is unfin- 
ished. He will take none too soon away. Hence we derive courage 
for ourselves. Hence too we derive consolation, when any who pro- 
mised to be eminently useful are taken away. It may seem to ns that 
they are taken before their time, and that their work is unfinished ; 
but it does not so seem to God. For ourselves, we cannot avoid 
weepiug when they go ; but for the church of God, we should 
rather say, "Another and yet another part of God's great work 
on earth is now accomplished, for he hath called another, and yet 
another, of the laborers to enter into his reward.'' As the time 
of our death is fixed, so also is the manner, and herein too the 
Christian may find consolation. Precious in the sight of the Lord 
is the death of his saints, Ps. cxvi. 15. AVe may die alone — we 
may die all unattended by earthly friends — we may die in 
strange lands, in poverty or want — but what are all these to 
one who knows that his times are in God's hand? What are 
these to one who knows that though, like Lazarus, he dies in want 
at the rich man's gate, he is attended by angels, and carried by 
them, like Lazarus, to Abraham's bosom ? 

Hence too, we learn the folly of neglecting to perform any plain 
duty in order that we may take care of our lives. If our time to 
die is fixed, then it will come to us whether we stay idly at 
home, or whether we gird ourselves and go forth manfully to our 
work. It is better, far better, if the will of God be so, that we die 
at our post, and in the midst of our work, than like cowards or 
deserters from the camp. Hence too the importance of doing 
novj what you have to do ; your time is not forever, nor can it be 



332 



OUR TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



indefinitely prolonged. Once lost, it is lost beyond any possibi- 
lity of recall. 

III. As the time of our birth, and the time of our death are 
in God's hands, and appointed by him, so it is equally manifest 
that all our intermediate times are in his hand. There is a time to 
every purpose and to every work, Ecc. iii. 1. Times are not hidden 
from the Almighty, Job xxiv. 1. My times are in thy hand. 

Our ignorance of the times of our life, and our uncertainty as 
to our future condition, are manifest. Yet nothing is more com- 
mon than the desire to pry into futurity, and read the lot that is 
written for us. Hence in all ages of the world, and in all lands 
under the sun, fortune-tellers and soothsayers have found abun- 
dant employment. Hence the arts of astrology and magic, by 
which so many have been deceived. Hence the numbers who 
have professed to "know the times," and the still greater num- 
bers, who have been deceived by them. But all this is folly. 
An impenetrable veil covers the future. The lamp of ex- 
perience may assist us in judging somewhat of the future, but 
there is no man who can tell what shall be hereafter upon the 
earth. Why trouble ourselves then with vain efforts to discover 
what cannot be known, until the time shall declare it ? 

Yet some desire, some interest, and perhaps anxiety, about 
the future is almost unavoidable. Constituted as we are, we can 
scarcely avoid looking ahead, and conjecturing if we cannot tell 
with certainty what shall befall us or our friends ; and with the 
uncertainty that ever attends such conjectures, the undue indul- 
gence of such a desire, may easily fill our minds with disquiet. 
It becomes then a question of interest, " How may this desire rise 
in our minds, and exert the influence it should upon our conduct, 
and yet not allow ourselves to be disquieted, or careful beyond 
measure thereabout ?" And the answer we give to such a question, 
By being fully persuaded as David was, that our times are in God's 
hands. If we can be fully satisfied, that he controls all events 
that relate to us, and that nothing can occur without his wise and 
gracious permission, then every ground of anxiety is removed. 

" Let the unknown to-morrow 
Bring with it what it may, 
It can bring with it nothing 
But he will bear us through." 

That the times and seasons, the varied changes in men's condi- 



OUR TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



333 



tion are thus under God's control, is a truth often and explicitly 
declared in the Scriptures. In the song of Hannah, it is spoken 
of as one of his peculiar characteristics. 

The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich ; 

He bringeth low, and lifteth up. 

He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from 
the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the 
throne of glory, 1 Sam. ii. 7, 8. 

Our times of prosperity come from God. It is he that giveth 
thee power to get wealth, Deut. viii. 18. The blessing of the Lord, it 
maketh rich, Prov. x. 22 ; and without that blessing, it is in vain 
for you to rise up early, and to sit up late, and to eat the bread of sor- 
row, Ps. cxxvii. 2. All your labors and toils after any earthly 
good will prove unavailing, unless God is pleased to give the in- 
crease. What can the husbandman do, with all his labor, with- 
out the sunlight and the rain which God gives ? What can the 
merchant or the sailor do, without the free winds of heaven which 
God sends ? What can any man do, in any occupation, without 
health and strength which come from God ? 

Our times of adversity, too, are from God. There is a time to 
weep, as well as a time to laugh, a time to mourn, as well as a time to 
dance. And very few there are who are not called to pass 
through the one, as well as the other. At first sight, it would 
seem as if the favored children of God, should be exempted from 
the sufferings which are the common lot of all. But sound reason, 
experience, and Scripture, teach a different lesson. In this world, 
God's children are but children at best. They are in a course 
of training and education for another state, and need the chastise- 
ment as well as the caresses of their Father. And ivhat son is he 
whom the father chasteneth not? If ye be tuithout chastisement, 
whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons, Heb. xii. 
7, 8. The chastisements God sends upon his people are com- 
monly hard to bear. They would not be chastisements if they 
were not. He sees where we are most deficient, and lays his 
strokes accordingly. It often seems to the suffering Christian 
that he could bear almost any other affliction but the one that he 
actually endures, but God knows best. 

The afflictions of God's people are oftentimes great and sore, 
and of long continuance ; but none of them come without design, 
nor shall they destroy the believer. Affliction comeih not forth of 
the dust, neither doth trouble spring from the ground, Job v. 6. Many 



334 



OUR TIMES IN THE HAND OF GOD. 



are the afflictions of the righteous ; but the Lord delivereih him out of 
them all, Ps. xxxiv. 19. 

Thus we see that life and death, prosperity and adversity, are 
from (rod ; and with David we have reason to say, My times are 
in thy hand. This truth is to each of us ; one of great con- 
sequence. We are standing at the threshold of a new year ; we 
have already entered on its busy scenes and changing times. 
Who shall tell us what is before us ? Who can now read the 
records that shall be made ere the year closes ? Speaking accord- 
ing to probabilities much might be said. Some of you who are 
now far from your native land, shall be farther yet, ere twelve 
months pass away, while others may have returned to the bosom 
of their friends. Some of you who are now in feeble health, may 
become strong, while others rejoicing in their strength, shall find 
it fail. Who of us shall be laid in our graves during the coming 
year ? It would be strange were all this company to continue in 
life so long. And if the summons comes for any, are you ready 
to depart ? 

Scenes of joy, and scenes of sorrow, the height of prosperity, 
and the deep of adversity, sickness and health, life and death, are 
words of frequent use, and momentous meaning in the history of 
our race ; but who knows how to apply them beforehand to any 
individual ? We cannot tell. But this we do know. Our times 
are in God's hands, and it is well they are. It is not for you to 
know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own 
power, Acts i. 7. They are concealed from us in mercy. Who 
could bear the sight of all that may come upon him in the world ? 
Life itself would be a burden, if we always carried with us the 
certainty of the calamities that are impending. By not knowing, 
we are led to trust more implicitly upon the merits of the Saviour, 
and the grace and protection of Grod. Let us then cheerfully 
commit to him our temporal interests, and seek the welfare of our 
souls, and the salvation of Jesus Christ. So shall the year roll 
away, and whatever our outward state may be, whatever the lot 
of each, whether length of days, or speedy departure, from this 
world, we shall find abundant cause for peace, and thankfulness. 
Like David in the Psalm from which the text is taken we shall 
ever say, Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for 
them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in 
thee before the sons of men. 

Macao, Jan. 5, 1845. 



SERMON XXXVIII. 

CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed 
not that any should testify of man ; for he knew what was in man. — John ii. 24, 25. 

The words of the text were spoken of our Saviour soon after 
his entrance on his public ministry. He had gone to Jerusalem 
during the first passover after he commenced his ministry ; he 
had there shown his zeal for God by casting out the merchants 
and traders from the temple ; he had there spoken in figurative 
language of his death and resurrection after three days ; and he 
there performed so many miracles, as astonished all who saw them 
— and in consequence, many believed on his name when they saw 
the miracles which he did, v. 23. But it would seem that among 
those who then believed there were many like Simon Magus, who 
believed, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were 
done, and yet continued, notwithstanding this belief, in the gall of 
bitterness and the bond of iniquity, Acts viii. 13, 23. Experience 
shows but too plainly how common is such a faith as this. It 
does not work by love, nor purify the heart, and is therefore justly 
said by the apostle James, to be dead, James ii. 26. 

But our Lord was not deceived by the professed belief of these 
men. He did not entrust himself to them, nor hastily number 
them among his disciples, for he knew all men, both who really 
believed, and who did not. And this knowledge too was unde- 
rived. He needed no assistance from men, to enable him to judge 
of the characters of those by whom he was surrounded. He 
formed his opinion of men's characters, by an intuitive glance 
into their hearts. He needed not that any should testify of man, for 
he knew what was in man. 

The text teaches us most plainly that Jesus Christ knows the 
hearts of all man, and that no secret emotion can lurk there un- 



336 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



detected by him. Nor is this a doctrine taught here alone. It 
is one that meets us on every page of the gospels, and under every 
variety of form and expression. During his public ministry, our 
blessed Lord associated with all classes of Jewish society. The 
Pharisees indeed sneered at him as the friend and associate of pub- 
licans and sinners, nor did he disdain that title. But he also sat 
at the tables of the Pharisees, and lodged with men of wealth, 
though perhaps the next day he received charity from a poor wo- 
man, or reposed his wearied frame in a fisherman's open boat. 
He associated with them all, and he knew them all. The crafty 
politician, the designing priest and scribe, the sanctimonious 
Pharisee, and the skilful lawyer, as well as the fisherman, the 
widow woman and the child, found in him one who understood 
perfectly their several characters. 

During one of his visits to Capernaum, a man sick of the palsy 
was brought to him to be healed, and such was the earnestness 
and the faith, both of the sick man and his friends, that our Sa- 
viour took special notice of it, and to reward it, said to the sick of 
the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee. The scribes 
and Pharisees who were present began to reason in their hearts, 
and to say within themselves, for they uttered no words, This 
man speaketh blasphemies. Scarcely had the thought risen in their 
hearts, ere Jesus knowing their thoughts, reproved them for it, 
Matt ix. 4, Mark ii. 8, Luke v. 18. 

At another time, he was teaching in the synagogue, and there 
was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes 
and Pharisees watched him whether he would heal on the Sab- 
bath day, that they might find an accusation against him. They 
spake no words to disclose their purposes, for that would have de- 
feated the object they had in view. But how great must have 
been their surprise, when the Lord, knowing their thoughts, pub- 
licly called upon them for the reason why good might not be 
done on the Sabbath day ? Answer or reason they could give 
none, for they were confounded at the disclosure of thoughts, 
whose baseness they wished to conceal even from themselves, 
Luke vi. 6, Matt..xii. 10, Mark iii. 1. 

He cast out devils, and showed so many signs that the people 
were amazed. But the Pharisees, to detract if possible from his 
reputation, secretly circulated a report that he was in league with 
the powers of darkness, and had cast out devils only by the as- 
sistance of Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Again, to their 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



337 



confusion, they found that he knew their thoughts, and had an an- 
swer and a reproof ready for every imagination. Matt. xii. 25, 
Luke xi. 14. 

He was asked by a Pharisee to eat with him. and while he sat 
at meat, a woman of the city which was a sinner, according to the 
custom of the country, which allowed any person to enter the 
dining hall, came in. and weeping behind him began to wash his 
feet with tears, and to wipe them with the hairs of her head, and 
kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment, The Pharisee, 
glad of anything that would give him a lower idea of the charac- 
ter of Jesus. spad:e within himself, saying that Christ could not be a 
prophet, or he would not suffer such a woman to touch him. 
How little he knew of the deep heart-searching power of our 
Lord ! The Saviour, answering his thoughts (for they lay as yet 
in his heart, unseen save by him who knew what was in man), 
with inimitable beauty and force showed him the difference be- 
en his own vain-glorious, unhumbled thought, and the deep 
penitence of her on whom he looked with so much disdain, Luke 
vii 40. 

At another time, the combined wisdom or cunning of the 
Pharisees and the Herodians laid a deep and crafty scheme to 
catch him in his words. Their question was concerning the pay- 
ment of tribute to Caesar, and to their plain question Shall ire 
give, or shall ice not give t they thought it well nigh impossible 
that he should give an answer without committing himself, and 
affording matter of accusation. But sorely did they repent of 
their temerity. Knowing their hypocrisy, and perceiving their wick- 
edness, he said. Why tempt ye me. ye hypocrites f and the answer 
he gave was such as quite confounded them, and from that day 
forth, no man durst ask him an}~ more questions, Matt xxii. 15, 
Mark xii. 13, Luke xx. 20. 

He knew what was in man. and, he knew all men. Iso matter 
how obscure their station, or how secret their past course of life, 
or how apparently casual their interview with him. he could in a 
few words disclose to them all their past history, and cause them 
to crv, like the woman of Samaria, Come see a man which told me 
all that ever I did, John iv. 29. 

It was especially in his intercourse with his disciples, that our 
Lord's wonderful knowledge of the human heart was displayed. 
"With regard to them it was emphatically true, that he knew what 
was in them, and needed no testimony of men to confirm or mod- 

22 



338 CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 

ify his judgment. The zeal of Simon Peter, and his boldness and 
energy of character, gave him an important rank among the apos- 
tles, both before and after the crucifixion of our Lord. The pier- 
cing eye of the Saviour beheld this trait in his character the mo- 
ment he first saw him, and he said, Thou art Simon, the son of 
Jona ; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone, 
John i. 42. And yet with all the zeal and energy that Peter pos- 
sessed, the Lord saw that he lacked that firmness which should 
resist temptation, and when the disciple told him, I am ready to go 
with thee, both into prison, and to death, the Lord replied, I tell thee, 
Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before thou shalt thrice deny that 
thou knowest me, Luke xxii. 34. The event proved too truly the 
accuracy of our Lord's knowledge of his character. 

We are so much in the habit of regarding the apostle John as 
the beloved disciple, that we scarcely think of him as having ever 
possessed any other than a mild and gentle disposition. But the 
reproof he gave to one who cast out devils in Christ's name, be- 
cause he followed not with them, Mark ix. 38, and the proposi- 
tion he made to call down fire from heaven, and consume the Sa- 
maritan village, that would not receive our Lord, Luke ix. 50, 
show that Christ better understood his character, when he sur- 
named John and James, Boanerges, or sons of thunder, Mark iii. 17. 
How appropriate too this name was to James, may easily be seen 
by those who read the thrilling exhortations and solemn denun- 
ciations of his epistle. ISTo sooner, too, had Nathan ael appeared 
before him, than he showed his knowledge of what was in man, 
Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile. The astonished 
Kathanael said unto him, Whence knowest thou me f but his aston- 
ishment was heightened by the reply he received, When thou wast 
under the fig-tree, I saw thee. Beneath the dark and impenetrable 
shade of the fig-tree, Nathanael had perhaps been pouring out his 
prayers for the consolation of Israel. He was sure no eye but the 
eye of God had seen him, and when he found himself in the pres- 
ence of one, who even there had beheld the secret emotions of his 
heart, he could not contain the exclamation that burst from his 
lips, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel, 
John i. 47^9. 

From the time of his baptism by John, until the day that he 
was taken up to heaven, he came in and went out with his disci- 
ples, and they must daily have felt that they were in the presence 
of one who read e\ r ery thought of their hearts. There was a trai- 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



339 



tor among them, but this was not concealed from him ; for it is 
expressly recorded, Jesus hneiu from the beginning who they were 
that believed not, and who should betray him, John vi. 64. When 
some of his professed disciples murmured at his doctrine, Jesus 
knew it in himself, and said unto them, Doth this offend you P John 
vi. 61. TThen they disputed among themselves, which of them 
should be the greatest, though they spake not of it to Christ, and 
indeed sought rather to conceal it from him, yet he perceived the 
thought of their heart, and by the example of a little child, in whose 
heart no such ambitious thoughts had yet risen, he showed them 
the disposition of the heart that he approved, Luke ix. 47, Mark 
ix. 33, 34. 

During his last discourse with his disciples, something was 
said respecting which they wished to ask for fuller information. 
Jesus, knowing that they were desirous to ask him, answered 
their unuttered inquiries so fully and satisfactorily, that they 
could not contain their surprise. Note we are sure that thou hnow- 
est all things, and needest not that any man should ash thee ; by this 
we believe that thou earnest forth from God, John xvi. 19, 30. 

There were many occasions in the life of our Lord, when his 
consummate knowledge of the human heart was exhibited ; but I 
have preferred to mention only those in which the possession of 
this attribute is distinctly ascribed to him. There are, however, 
one or two other particulars in which it is so evidently implied, that 
they deserve more than a passing notice. 

1. Jesus Christ came to this world to be, and he still continues 
to be, the great Prophet or Teacher of his church. In order to 
fulfil this office, he must not only understand perfectly all the will 
of Grod, and the deep purposes of the divine mind respecting our 
salvation, — he must also be able to communicate so much of this 
knowledge as is necessary to salvation to each and every member 
of his church. But even among men, no one can well fulfil the 
office of a teacher, who has not carefully studied and well under- 
stood the character of his pupils. ISTo one can be apt to teach, nor 
rightly communicate knowledge, who does not know the igno- 
rance, the wants, and the capacities of his scholars. Nor can 
Jesus Christ instruct his disciples, unless he thoroughly knows 
the heart, and the disposition of each. Behold then the greatness 
of his knowledge of what is in man. His church is composed of 
the men of every land and nation, of every age and rank. The 
profoundest of philosophers, the ablest of statesmen, the most sa- 



340 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



gacious and the acutest intellects, have sat at his feet, and learned 
of him, as well as the ignorant Hottentot, the barbarous Esqui- 
maux, and the imbecile Polynesian. He has known the deep ig- 
norance and stupidity of the one, he has fathomed all the wisdom 
of the other, and he has taught them all. He has opened the 
hearts of each to receive the truth, and this has been a far harder 
work, than to open the eyes of the blind who came to him for 
sight. Satan hath blinded the eyes of them that believe not, and 
ere any could receive the knowledge of the truth, it has been 
necessary that the great Teacher should remove the scales that 
covered the mental and the moral eye. These obstructions to 
spiritual sight being removed, he has poured divine light into the 
soul. The deep things of God, the hidden mysteries of the king- 
dom, the wonders of redemption — these he reveals to each of his 
chosen ones. And yet this revelation is not an indiscriminate 
one, nor does he give to each the same amount of knowledge. 
He who knows what is in man, knows well how much they can 
bear, and enlarges their knowledge in proportion to their capaci- 
ties and desires, John xvi. 12. What less than omniscience is ad- 
equate to a work like this ? 

2. And as the prophetical office of Christ implies the posses- 
sion of perfect knowledge of the human heart, so also does his 
office of final and universal Judge. God hath appointed him to 
judge the world in righteousness, Acts xvii. 31, and though men 
laugh at the intimation now, and say, Where is the 'promise of his 
coming? Yet the day is fast approaching when all nations shall 
be gathered before his bar to render an account for the deeds 
done in the body. Nor is this account to be confined to out- 
ward actions. It shall include even every idle word. Matt. xii. 36, 
and the secret thoughts of the heart must then be tried. God shall 
bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be 
good or whether it be evil, Ecc. xii. 14. However deep laid, or care- 
fully concealed your thoughts may now be, before the all-piercing 
eyes of the Judge, in that great day, there is nothing covered that 
shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known, Luke xii. 2. 
But to execute such a judgment as this — to weigh the thoughts, 
and words and actions of all men of every age — to estimate aright 
the character of each, and award to each his just deserts, according 
to his works, what less than infinite wisdom is required? Shall 
not 4he judge of all the earth do right f At that great trial day 
there will be no need of human witnesses, for the judge is he, of 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



341 



whom our text says, He knew all men, and needed not that any 
should testify of man, for he knew what was in man. 

3. In the doctrine of our text, that Jesus Christ is perfectly 
acquainted with the hearts of men, we have one of the strongest 
arguments to prove the essential Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It is a truth frequently recorded in the Scriptures, both of the 
Old and New Testaments, that it is God's prerogative to search 
and know the human heart. When David was at the point to 
die, he said to Solomon, with all solemnity, Jehovah searcheth all 
hearts, and understandeih all the imaginations of the thoughts, 1 Chron. 
xxviii. 9. In the prophecies of Jeremiah, God is represented as 
challenging this attribute to himself. The heart is deceitful above 
all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? I Jehovah 
search the heart, I try the reins, Jer. xvii. 9, 10. And Solomon, 
as if to preclude any shadow of doubt on this point, expressly 
declares that the knowledge of the heart, is peculiar to God alone. 
In his prayer at the dedication of the temple — a prayer dictated 
by immediate inspiration, and left on record for our instruction — 
we meet these words, addressed to God, Thou, even thou only 
knowest the hearts of all the children of men, 1 Kings viii. 39. In 
sublime language the prophet Amos declares the same truth. 
Lo ! he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and de- 
clareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning dark- 
ness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, Jehovah, the God 
of hosts is his name, Amos iv. 13. To all these testimonies from 
the Old Testament, agree the words of the apostles, in their 
prayer, before the appointment of Matthias to the apostleship, 
Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of 
these two thou hast chosen, Acts i. 24. 

Now we have seen, in the passages already adduced from the 
gospels, that Jesus Christ did possess the power of searching the 
heart. How often did he declare unto men their thoughts, aod 
how expressly do the evangelists testify that he knew all things? 
As if to put the matter beyond the possibility of a doubt, we find 
our Lord himself, in the book of Eevelation, claiming this power, 
and that in the very words used by the prophets of the Old Testa- 
ment, when describing the majesty of Jehovah, These things saith 
the Son of God: all the churches shall know that L am he which 
searcheth the reins and hearts, Eev. ii. 18-23. The possession of 
any one of the incommunicable attributes of Jehovah is sufficient 
to prove its possessor to be divine. 



342 



CHEIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



Were there nothing else in the word of God respecting the 
divinity of Christ, the proofs already adduced on this one point, 
would be sufficient to establish it. But these are but a part 
selected out of a mass of proofs, all equally clear. 

The doctrine of Christ's divinity is not an unimportant one in 
the Christian system. It is not one that may be held or rejected 
at pleasure, without endangering the salvation of the soul. It 
lies at the very foundation of our religion, and a mistake or error 
here is fatal. 

Either Jesus Christ is God, or he is not. There is no middle 
point between these two propositions. One or the other must be 
believed, and the one not believed must be rejected. If Christ be 
not God, he is a creature, and those who ascribe divinity to him, 
and worship him, are guilty of exalting a creature to the throne 
of God. But to worship a creature is to commit idolatry, and of 
this monstrous sin, are the Trinitarians guilty, if Jesus Christ be 
not truly God. 

If Jesus Christ be truly God, and we say he is not, then we 
rob him of his divinity, and this is a crime that he will not lightly 
pass by. Will a man rob God? Yet here is a robbery, before 
which ordinary sacrilege might pass for virtue. It takes the 
Creator and hurls him from his rightful throne. It ascribes to 
him only a delegated power to rule, where he possesses inherent 
and supreme authority. Oh my hearers, if any of you have fallen 
into this dangerous error, I beseech you to examine again the 
reasons of your belief, and be you well persuaded ere you suffer 
yourselves to believe that he who searches the heart, and knows 
what is in man, is not truly divine. The proof of his divinity 
does not rest alone, on the names of God, which are so frequently 
given to him. It is founded equally on the divine attributes he 
possesses; and the honor and worship paid to him; and it is 
incontestably argued from the work he came to perform. A 
work, which he finished, but for which no creature, even though 
the highest of all that God has made, is sufficient. 

4. We learn from the doctrine of our text, how impossible it 
is to deceive the Saviour, and hence draw a warning against 
hypocrisy, and all self-deception in religion. There is much that 
passes among men for religion that is not approved of God. 
There are times when an outward attention to the duties enjoined 
in the gospel, is not only common and approved but even fashion- 
able. There are many vices, which no man who has a proper 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



343 



regard for himself, or the good opinion of society, would allow 
himself to practise. There are many virtues, the practice of which, 
not only adds to our own comfort, and gains for us the approval 
of conscience, but they secure the admiration of the world, and 
increase our respectability among men. I do not say that this is 
wrong. On the contrary, it is right. But the error with most 
men, is that they are satisfied when so much is gained, and stop 
at this point. My friends, this is not enough. Man cannot 
search the heart, nor know what is in other men. Man can 
scarcely know even his own heart, and many who are not guilty 
of intentional hypocrisy, are most grossly deceived, in regard to 
their own condition and character. In the concerns of our souls, 
we do not deal with men but with the heart-searching Jehovah. 
Our Judge is one who knows what is in man far better than we 
do ourselves; and who needs not the testimony of man. He 
searcheth the heart, he scrutinizes its prevailing dispositions and 
feelings ; he looks for more than external morality ; he requires 
not merely that you do justly, but that you love mercy and walk 
humbly with God. He seeks for the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, 
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, and when these are wanting, no 
outward profession, no attendance on external forms, no payment 
of tithes, or noisy zeal can secure his favor. Not he that com- 
mendeth himself is approved, hut whom the Lord commendeth, 2 Cor. 
x. 18. Therefore search carefully your own hearts, and pray for 
divine assistance in discovering what you are, and what you 
should be, and remember the words of the apostle Paul, If we 
would judge ourselves, ive should not he judged, 1 Cor. xi. 31. 

5. Finally, from this doctrine of our Saviour's knowledge of 
the heart, we draw encouragement for perseverance in every duty, and 
consolation for every time of trial. 

The Christian's course on earth, is a course of labor, he has 
many duties to perform, and must ofttimes prosecute his labor 
and perform his duties, not merely without the approbation, per- 
haps even in the face of the opposition of the world, but he must 
often labor all alone, without even the assistance of a fellow- 
Christian. I speak to some who know my meaning, when I say, 
that there are times when the heart is almost ready to break under 
a sense of discouragement. There are times when every hope 
seems disappointed; when every duty seems to have been left 
undone ; and when in the words of the sweet singer of Israel, 
groans and tears become the constant companions of the believer. 



344 



CHRIST AS THE SEARCHER OF THE HEART. 



This is especially apt to be the case, when the believer is left 
without a Christian friend, with whom to take counsel and offer 
prayer. But I say to you, my friends, you are not alone in all 
this. There is One who knows most thoroughly all your dis- 
couragements, and wants. There is One who has seen every 
emotion of your heart, who has noticed the sincerity and the 
earnestness of your desires for his presence. He has heard the 
unuttered prayers of your heart, and comprehended the feelings 
that could find no words for their expression. He knows all 
things, and does not need that you should ask in measured phrase, 
for he knows what is in man. In all your sorrows, infirmities, 
and disappointments, he has been a sympathizing High Priest, 
and as able to help as he is ready to sympathize. And if he has 
not already appeared for your help and deliverance, it has not 
been because he knew not of your wants, but because he saw that 
the proper time had not yet come for his appearance. Come, 
therefore, with boldness unto him, declare unto him every want 
and every sorrow : you shall find an ear ever open, and a heart 
ever ready. The duties that you have performed in silence and 
obscurity, are recorded before him. The prayers you offer in se- 
cret shall be rewarded openly ; and in the day of final accounts, 
it shall matter little whether you have been celebrated or unknown 
among men. He who knows what is in man, and saw Nathanael 
under the fig-tree, shall acknowledge all his followers, however 
humble or obscure among men, in the presence of his Father, and 
of the holy angels. The Lord grant to each of us, to find favor 
in his sight in that day. 

Macao, January 12, 1845. 



SEKMON XXXIX. 



THE PROPITIATION" OF CHRIST. 

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, 
we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous : and he is the 
Propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole 
world. — 1 John ii. 1, 2. 

By the law is the knowledge of sin, Eom. iii. 20. By the law 
is the warning against sin. By the law is the punishment of sin. 
By it is the wrath of God against sin, and his abhorrence of it 
revealed ; and the conscience and heart of man made to perceive 
its nature. I had not known sin but by the law, Kom. vii. 7. 

These things are by the law, but here its office stops. By the 
law is not the forgiveness of sin. By the law is not the washing 
away of the stain of sin. It is a rule of life, and a standard of 
reward for a holy being. The man which doeth those things, shall 
live by them, Lev. xviii. 5 ; Bom. x. 5. But if he do them not, 
there is no help for him in the law. The blood of bulls and goats, 
can never take away sin. And the soid that sinneth, it shall die, Ezek. 
xviii. 20 ; Heb. x. 4. These things saith the law. 

By the gospel also, is the knowledge of sin, for sin is never 
rightly known except when seen at the cross of Christ. By the 
gospel is repentance for sin. By the gospel is the forgiveness of 
sin. By the gospel is the taking away of sin, and the cleansing 
of the soul from its defilement. By the gospel is that holiness of 
heart and life, without which no man shall see God. Hence, said 
the apostle, These things I write unto you that ye sin not. 

How little they know of the gospel, who suppose it gives any, 
even the least license to sin. Its prohibitions are as solemn and 
as strict, as those of the law given in thunder and in flame from 
Mount Sinai, and it excludes it more effectually from the heart. 
As well as the law, it saith, Stand in awe and sin not, Ps. iv. 4. It 
was the Saviour himself, who said to the impotent man he healed, 



346 



THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 



Sin no more, John xv. 14. It was he who said to the woman 
taken in adultery, Go and sin no more, John viii. 11. The gospel 
holds up as distinctly as the law, the character of God ; nay, it 
exhibits that character far more clearly, for it pictures it in the 
life of Christ the brightness of his glory, and the express image of 
his person, Heb. i. 3, and when our minds are awed by the contem- 
plation of infinite purity and virtue, it says to us, As he which hath 
called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Be- 
cause it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy, 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. The 
grace of God which bringeth salvation, teacheth us that denying ungod- 
liness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly 
in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious 
appearing of the great God and our Sa,viour Jesus Christ* who gave 
himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify 
unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Tit. ii. 11-13. 

The gospel has a universal offer. Its conditions fit it for 
all men. Hear its voice in our text. If any man sin. In what 
words could an offer for all men be more certainly expressed ? 
It saith not, "If any man is wise — if any man is rich — if any 
man is happy — if any man is sorrowful." There might be persons 
not embraced in such a call. But it saith, If any man sin — and 
who is not included here ? There are some who are not wise, 
and some who are not rich, and some who are not happy, and 
a few who are not sorrowful, but there is none who does not sin, 
and therefore, none to whom the words of the text are not spoken. 
Who can say, I have made my heart pure, I am clean from my sin ? 
Prov. xx. 9. In (rod's sight the heavens are not clean, Job xv. 
14. Yea, he charged his angels with folly, Job iv. 18. And what 
is man then, that he should be clean f and that is born of a woman 
that he should be righteous 1 Job xiv. 14. Behold, there is no man 
that sinneth not, 1 Kings viii. 46. Solomon testified that there is 
not a just man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not, Ecc. 
vii. 20. And the apostle Paul shows, with all possible minuteness 
and solemnity, that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of 
God, Eom. iii. 23. Look to the spectacle exhibited at Calvary. 
Behold him who knew no sin, 2 Cor. v. 21, undergoing a death 
such as no criminal ever suffered since the foundation of the 
world. Whence these sufferings — these agonies — that bitter cry 

* tov [icya\ov Btov ku auTripoi rtjxuiv Irjaov Xpiorov, " Of our great God and Saviour, 
Jesus Christ," as this passage should be translated, according to the invariable forca 
of the Greek article. 



THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 



347 



— that marvellous death? All we like sheep have gone astray : we 
have turned every one to Ms own way, and the Lord hath laid on him 
the iniquity of us all, Is. liii. 6. 

Such are the declarations of Scripture, and I need scarcely 
appeal to experience, for the truth of what every one of you 
has seen around you, and felt within you. 

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness 
and unrighteousness of men, Eom. i. 18. We are sinners before 
his bar ; we are placed on trial ; the throne is set, the books are 
opened, and the judgment is begun. What hope is there when 
the Lord Jesus shall he revealed from heaven with Ids mighty angels 
in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey 
not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? 2 Thes. i. 7, 8. What plea 
have you to offer before him ? The Judge of all the earth will 
do right, nor shall any be condemned unheard. God will be jus- 
tified when he speaks, and clear when he judges, Ps. li. 4. 

But the terrors of his appearing, and the majesty of his 
throne, shall put to silence all the vain excuses men now bring 
for sin, nor shall any dare to justify or palliate what now they 
behold with unconcern. Lf thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, 
Lord, who shall stand? Ps. cxxx. 3. How should man be just 
with God? Lf he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one 
of a thousand, Job ix. 2, 3. Hence the prayer of the Psalmist, 
Enter not into judgment with thy servant ; for in thy sight shall no 
man living be justified, Ps. cxliii. 2. 

Let the sentence be pronounced ; the criminal has pleaded 
guilty. Let the ministers of justice bind him hand and foot, and 
cast him into outer darkness, Matt. xxv. 30. There is no hope 
for him forever, but weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth ; 
these are his portion, for the wages of sin is death, Eom. vi. 23. 

But stay ! A hand is lifted up. A motion is made to arrest 
the judgment. A plea is put in his defence, for an Advocate 
appears. Who is this that comes before the eternal throne, 
undaunted by the fiery stream that issues and comes forth ? 
Sinner, guilty, condemned, and despairing, look upon him, and 
see if thou canst recognize the lineaments of his face. He wears 
a human form. One like unto the Son of man. There are scars in 
his hand. There are marks of suffering on his brow. He hath 
been acquainted with grief But now a glory crowns his head — 
authority beams forth from his eye — his arm is clothed with 
power, and majesty attends his steps. Who is this ? Dost thou 



348 



THE PROPITIATION" OF CHRIST. 



not know him ? Once he walked the earth, a man of sorrows, 
but now he is anointed with the oil of gladness, and exalted at 
the right hand of God. Once a homeless wanderer, and a friend 
of publicans and sinners, he knows what sufferings mean, and 
can sympathize with them that are in any sorrow. 'Now, he is 
exalted far above all principality, and power, and might, and 
dominion, Eph. i. 21. It is Jesus Christ, the Eighteous. It 
is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the 
right hand of God, who also maheth intercession for us, Eom. 
viii. 34. 

If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father. The 
word (naQuxirjrog,) advocate, signifies an intercessor, one who 
pleads the cause of an offender before the judge. One who 
mediates between two parties, offering arguments in arrest of 
judgment, and reasons for the bestowment of favors. Such is 
Jesus Christ, in the great work of salvation. On the one side is 
arrayed the holy and just God, whose law cannot be violated 
with impunity, and on the other, men who have sinned and 
incurred the penalty of the law. Bold must be the Being who 
would undertake the cause of persons in such a plight as this. 
Had it been proposed to the angelic host, there is not one of 
them that would have dared to assume our cause. But there is 
help for us, laid upon one that is mighty to save. There is one 
God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 
1 Tim. ii. 5. He undertakes to secure the acquittal of every sin- 
ner that will trust his cause in his hands, and makes it his constant 
business to accomplish what he has promised. He ever liveth to 
make intercession for them, Heb. vii. 25. 

There are those who have dreamed of other mediators, and 
other advocates. There are even some who have foolishly 
thought to plead their own cause at that solemn tribunal, but the 
Scriptures expressly inform us, that there is none, save he of 
whom we speak, that shall succeed. There is salvation in no 
other ; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, 
whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ of Naza- 
reth, Acts iv. 12. 

The prisoner placed at the bar of any earthly court, finds it 
necessary to secure the services of an able advocate. How 
important that our advocate in the court of heaven be well 
qualified for the work he has undertaken ! Our hopes rest upon 
him, our cause is in his hand, and if he fails, the sentence must 



THE PROPITIATION" OF CHRIST. 



349 



go against us. But in the character of him who has undertaken 
to plead for men, there is everything to encourage our hopes. 
He possesses every personal qualification that can be conceived 
necessary. By his possession of the divine nature, he is on an 
equality with the Judge, and stands before him without fear. By 
his possession of human nature, he is on a level with his clients, 
and can sympathize with them in every feeling and every fear. 
By the union of the two natures in his one person, he becomes a 
daysman (or umpire), who can lay his hand upon both, Job ix. 33. 
But his crowning qualification is, that he is a righteous Advocate, 
Jesus Christ, the Righteous. How different, in this respect, from 
those for whom he pleads ! Partaking of the same nature, yet 
without sin. But it was most appropriate that he should possess 
such a character. He stands and pleads before a holy Judge, 
and must, therefore, be holy himself. He comes not only to 
secure our pardon, but our sanctification. He must needs, there- 
fore, possess a spotless character himself. Ye know that he was 
manifested to take away our sins ; and in him is no sin, 1 John 
iii. 5. 

It is most refreshing to the soul, to consider the character of 
Jesus Christ as a holy Saviour in human nature. From the days 
of Adam's innocence in Paradise, until our times, the world has 
never seen one like him. Possessing all the excellencies of 
human nature, without its failings, the wicked one came, and 
found nothing in him, John xiv. 30. Born of a woman, yet with 
a nature incorrupt — associating with wicked men, but never led 
astray by their evil counsels — tempted, but never sinning — 
speaking often, but never an idle word — doing many things, but 
never an unholy action, he embodied, in his own example, 
absolute perfection. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his 
mouth, 1 Pet. ii. 22. 

In such an Advocate, we can repose the fullest confidence. 
His spotless character gives him every possible advantage, and 
secures for him a favorable audience. He will use no false pleas, 
he will bring no unsound arguments ; nor is it possible that he 
should deceive those that put their trust in him. 

The character of our Advocate gives us ground for hope, and 
yet vastly more than this is needful, before we can deem our 
safety certain. The prisoner of an earthly law is not rendered 
secure, simply by the unblemished reputation of the advocate he 
employs. The necessities of our case require more than this. 



350 



THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 



"Not only must the character of our advocate be above suspicion 
or reproach, but he must have a plea to offer which shall over- 
balance the overwhelming guilt which weighs us down. The law 
requires perfect obedience, and this we have not given. Failing 
in this, the law demands satisfaction. Some men think that, by 
the simple exercise of his sovereignty, God might dispense with 
the requisitions of the law, and grant pardon on account of peni- 
tence alone. Such is not the word of God. The heavens and 
earth may pass away, but his word cannot pass, and that word 
declares that, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission, 
Heb. ix. 22. But if the blood of the criminal be shed — if the 
full penalty of the law be inflicted on him, there can be no hope. 
He must lie down in sorrow forever. What plea, then, can the 
great Advocate offer ? What arguments can he present ? Ex- 
tenuate the guilt of the clients he may not do, for he is a right- 
eous Advocate. Explain away the requirements of the law he 
cannot do. It is God's law — it is his own law, and he came not to 
destroy the law, but to fulfil, Matt. v. 17. 

Let the prisoner of hope turn him to his strong hold, and dis- 
miss every fear, Zech. ix. 12. The ransom is paid, the debt is 
cancelled, the satisfaction of the law is already made. We have 
an Advocate, and he is the propitiation for our sins. A propitiation 
is that which renders God propitious, which satisfies his justice, 
removes his anger, and restores his favor ; and all this has been 
done by him who is the advocate for man. Do you ask how he 
has done it ? The answer is, By taking the place of man, and 
suffering in his own person, the penalty threatened by the law. 
The law had no claims upon him. He was not bound to obey its 
precepts, nor could he in his divinity suffer its penalty. But that 
he might rescue man from the misery in which he had plunged 
himself, he voluntarily put himself under the law ; that he might 
endure its penalty, and thus satisfy every demand of justice, he 
took our nature into union with his own. JBeing in the form of 
God, and thinking it no robbery to be equal with God, he made him- 
self of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and 
ivas made in the likeness of men. And being formed in fashion as a 
man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death. Even the 
death of the cross, Phil. ii. 6-8. Contemplate the life and actions 
of Christ. View him in all his onward course, from the time he 
first left his throne on high, till he > was lifted up between heaven 
and earth, a spectacle to angels and men. Eeflect on all his suf- 



THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 351 

ferings, from the time that his tender frame was laid in the 
manger, till the hour when he cried, It is finished, and gave up the 
ghost. Why all this humiliation? Why these sufferings and 
sorrows? Why was he thus acquainted with grief? It was not 
— it could not be for himself. He had no sins for which to suf- 
fer. It could not be merely that he might be an example of suf 
fering affliction with patience, or a warning to them of sin, show- 
ing them its evil effects. All this he doubtless was ; but that he 
was this alone, or that it was for this alone he came, is what the 
Scriptures do not teach ; nor does such a representation harmonize 
with the justice of God. Suffering cannot be, except on the ac- 
count of sin ; and it was beeause Christ was the propitiation for 
our sins, that he suffered as he did. His own self hare our sins in 
his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins should live unto 
righteousness ; by ivhose stripes ye were healed, 1 Pet. ii. 24. Christ 
hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, 1 Pet. iii. 18. 

The law of God had been broken by the sinner, and in order 
that justice might be satisfied, blood must be shed. Our Advo- 
cate bared his bosom, and shed his own blood. The law of God 
required perfect and constant obedience, in order that eternal 
life might be procured ; and our Advocate, who was under no 
law, put himself under the law, and obeyed it in every jot and 
tittle. The master of all evil put in a claim for the souls of men, 
that they were his lawful captives, and our Advocate met him on 
his own ground, and gave him battle. Sore was the conflict, but 
of no doubtful end. The seed of the woman bruised the serpent's 
head, and triumphantly exclaimed, Even the captives of the mighty 
shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered, Is. 
xlix. 25. Such is the propitiation of Christ ; such the sacrifice he 
offered ; such the effects it is designed to produce. A question 
occurs, What is the value of this sacrifice ? Is it sufficient for 
all the applications that may be made. There is no man who 
may not say with David, Innumerable evils have compassed me 
about, mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, Ps. xl. 12. Is the 
sacrifice of Christ sufficient to atone for all these ? Is the foun- 
tain for sin and uncleanness which he has opened, copious enough 
to wash away the sins of all men, of every land and nation ? The 
sacrifices of the Levitical law, imperfect and insufficient as they 
were to take away sin, Heb. x. 1-4, were intended only for the 
Jews, and Jewish proselytes — is this sacrifice of greater value 
and wider application ? Important questions ! but we have an 



352 THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 

answer in our text. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for 
ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Yes. There is 
no limit to its sufficiency. It was the human nature of Christ 
that suffered ; but the union of that nature with his divinity gave 
those sufferings a value fully infinite. There is no limit to the 
merits of our Saviour. The ocean has its boundaries, the sands 
on the sea-shore their certain number, the stars of heaven their 
several names and appointed stations, but boundary, or limit, or 
measure, in the salvation of Christ, there is no ne. The offer of 
the gospel, as we have seen, is universal, If any man sin, and the 
reason why it is universal, is because there is enough in Christ 
for all. 

How shall we obtain the benefit of this salvation? The 
apostle in the epistle from which our text is taken, was writing 
to those who had already obtained it, and therefore it is not men- 
tioned in this passage how they should lay hold of it. But the 
apostle Paul has told us. According to his declarations, men are 
justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ 
Jesus ; whom God had set forth to be a propitiation through faith in 
his blood, Eom. iii. 24, 25. Faith is therefore the instrument 
through which, or by means of which, the sinner apprehends the 
merits of Christ, and secures salvation. It is the hand which 
grasps the rope by which he is drawn into the ark. By grace ye 
are saved through faith, Eph. ii. 8. Hast thou faith ? If not, be- 
seech God to give it to you, for it is his gift. Hast thou faith ? 
If thou hast, come unto Christ with the disciple's prayer, Lord in- 
crease our faith, Luke xvii. 5. 

From this subject learn, 

1. The love and condescension of God. In human courts the 
advocate of the crown is the prosecutor of the prisoner at the bar, 
and all his energies are directed to secure the condemnation of 
the accused. But it is not so at God's bar. There, though we 
have so grossly rejected him, and broken his holy laws, he him- 
self has appointed an advocate for the guilty, and such an advo- 
cate as cannot fail to win his cause. It is not the manner of men 
thus to act, but it is the manner of the long-suffering and mer- 
ciful God. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved 
us, and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins, 1 John iv. 10. 
Herein also we see the perfection of the salvation offered to men, 
and its certainty of success. No part of it is left to false and 
erring man, but every part is secured by God himself. He has 



THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 



353 



provided everything that is necessary, and hath appointed him 
who purchased it at the expense of his own life, to be the great 
dispenser of it to all them that believe. We have an advocate 
righteous, and abundantly able; and he has a plea of infinite 
worth, and God has given a promise, on which faith may rest, with 
undoubting confidence. For he saith, If there he a messenger with 
him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his up* 
rightness ; then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from 
going down to the pit, I have found a, ransom, Job xxxiii. 23, 24. 

2. Learn hence, the necessity of applying immediately unto 
this advocate for safety. The fact that men are sinners, and that 
a propitiation was needed, shows the truth of what is elsewhere 
recorded, that the natural condition of men is one of great and 
imminent danger. Most men who live under the sound of the 
gospel, seem utterly unconscious of their true condition. Hear 
the words of our Lord himself. He that believeth not is condemned 
already, John iii. 18. You are by nature the children of wrath, Eph. 
ii. 3, and are you still careless and unconcerned ? How strange 
should we think it, to see a prisoner sleeping at the tribunal 
where he was on trial for his life, and yet no more irrational 
would his course be, than that of multitudes in our days, and I 
fear of some who now hear my voice. Tell men they are sinners, 
and they admit that they are. Tell them they are in danger of 
God's wrath, and they answer, "we know it." Tell them of 
Christ the great advocate, and of the propitiation through faith in 
his blood, and they say, "it is a good thing." Tell them that 
without embracing the salvation he offers, they cannot be saved 
— and what is the answer we get ? Go thy way for this time ; when 
I have a convenient season I will call for thee, Acts xxiv. 25. Oh, 
my hearers, put me not off thus again. Euin not your own souls 
by these repeated delays. Awake to righteousness and sin not. 
Flee from the avenger of blood, while the gates of the city of ref- 
uge are yet open. Take shelter in the cross of Christ ; ere he 
swear in his wrath, ye shall not enter into his rest. 

Finally. To you who by faith in the blood of Christ — foi 
some such I trust there are here — have already found God pro- 
pitious, I say, Show your gratitude to your great advocate and 
intercessor on high, by constantly remembering, and constantly 
honoring him. He does not forget you. You do not give him 
time or opportunity to do so. You are constantly sinning, even 
though your hearts be renewed, and were it not that he ever liveth 

23 



354: 



THE PROPITIATION OF CHRIST. 



to make intercession, it would go hard if you ever entered Heaven. 
You are compassed about with sins and infirmities ; forget not, 
therefore, the only Being who can deliver you from condemna- 
tion. When overwhelmed with the sense of sin, do not so dis- 
honor him as to despair of his grace and ability still to save. If 
any man sin we have an advocate ivith the Father. 

I need scarcely say, that all this furnishes no excuse or pre- 
text whatever for continuing in sin. It is not possible that he 
who has really fled for refuge to the grace of Christ, should con- 
tinue in the habitual commission of known sin. It is a contradic- 
tion both in terms, and in things. How shall ive, that are dead to 
sin, live any longer therein f Eom. vi. 2. But though the believer 
does not sin habitually, nor of choice, yet the remains of his cor- 
rupt nature, the sin that dwelleth in him, is constantly leading him 
to do that he would not, Eom. vii. 15-17. And for such, yea, 
for all men, the only, the all-sufficient resource, is found in Christ. 
These things I ivrite unto you, that ye sin not ; and if any man sin, 
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; and 
he is the propitiation for our sin, and not for ours only, but also for the 
sin of the whole world. 

Oh God, add thy blessing ! 

Macao, January 19, 1845. 

Fxtract from the Author's Journal. 

Macao, January 19th, 1845. 

It is three years to-day since I left my father's house. Many 
changes have come over me since then ; trials and afflictions have 
befallen me, but out of them all the Lord hath delivered me, and 
having obtained help of him I continue to this day. For nearly 
two years I have been preaching to a small congregation of Eng- 
lish and Americans, once every Sabbath. To-day I preached my 
last sermon to them, and bade them farewell. How many of 
them shall I meet in peace at the great day of reckoning ? As 
far as they are concerned at least, I feel myself pure from their 
blood. I have not shunned to declare unto them the whole 
counsel of God. And to some at least it has been a blessing ; 
would that the same could be said of all ! — Memoir, p. 288. 



SERMON" XL. 



ON OFFENCES. 

Woe unto the world because of offences ! for it must needs be that offences come : 
but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh ! — Matthew xviii. 7- 

These words of our Lord should strike the heart of every pro- 
fessor of religion with fear. They are not addressed to the world 
at large, but to the members of the visible church, and specially 
to such as hold responsible and influential stations in the church. 
They were spoken to the disciples, just after they had witnessed 
three of our Lord's great miracles — the transfiguration, the cast- 
ing of a devil out of a child, which the disciples were not able to 
accomplish, and the procuring of tribute money from the mouth 
of a fish. One would have thought that such wonders as these 
would have driven worldly thoughts, and schemes of self-aggran- 
dizement, from the disciples' minds, — but it seems not, for at the 
same time, they came to Christ to know who should be the great- 
est in the kingdom of heaven. By a most touching illustration, 
even that of a little child, our Lord rebuked their proud imagina- 
tions, and then, referring to the dangerous consequences of ambi- 
tion, jealousy, and envy among his disciples, he spoke the memo- 
rable words of the text, with many others of like import. 

The warning of the text is a personal warning to every mem- 
ber of Christ's church ; but it is more especially so to us, who, 
like the apostles to whom it was first addressed, are sent to pro- 
claim the gospel of the kingdom where it has not been before re- 
ceived. I pray you therefore to give me your candid and prayer- 
ful attention, as I proceed to show the meaning of oar Saviour's 
words. 

I. Let us consider first, why 

It must needs he that offences come. 

By offences are meant, whatsoever things act as stumbling- 
blocks, causing men to take offence at the gospel, to sin, and to 



I II 

356 ON OFFENCES. 

lose their souls. Whatsoever brings disgrace on religion, or leads 
men to neglect the worship of God, or to plunge deeper in sin, is 
an offence, and melancholy as it is, it is too true, that offences 
must come. The idea that no offence will arise, is one that can- 
not be entertained at all. (It is Apevdexxov, Luke xvii. 1.) There 
is a necessity that they come, and all the prudence and piety of 
the church cannot prevent them from coming. Sin is a terrible 
thing. It has brought confusion into the world, and it must needs 
be, that dreadful consequences follow. Nothing is exempt from 
this law. There must needs be storms in the air, and earthquakes 
in the land. There must needs be revolutions in society, and 
overturnings among the nations ; and alas that we should say it ! 
t there must needs be offences even in the church of Christ, by 
reason of which, woe unto the world ! Say not that these offences 
come alone from the ungodly, fierce volcanoes rage in the fairest 
lands, and most genial climes, and the most ruinous offences arise 
in what should be a paradise on earth, even in the church of God. 
It is evident from the Scriptures — There must be heresies among 
you, says the apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth, 1 Cor. xi. 
19. The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall 
depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of 
devils ; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with 
a hot iron ; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from 
meats, 1 Tim. iv. 1-3. Of whom does the Spirit thus expressly 
predict these offences, if not of a church to which one of the most 
instructive epistles in the New Testament was written ; and 
whose faith at the time when this was written, was spoken of 
throughout the whole world f Eom. i. 8. And from whom does the 
same apostle say that in the last days perilous times shall come, 
if not from such as have the form of godliness, 2 Tim. iv. 1-5. 
Professor of religion ! tremble for thyself. It is in reference to 
such as thou that the words of Christ in the text, and of Paul in 
the epistles, are especially spoken. 

Is it asked why offences must needs come, and why specially 
from the church? The answer is found in the two admitted 
facts, that even in the sons of God, original depravity still exists, 
and that Satan is peculiarly active in tempting them to fall if 
possible, and to bring reproach on the cause of Christ. Nor do 
I know of any class of men who are more exposed to danger from 
both these sources, than missionaries to the heathen. In us the 
remains of sin are less restrained by the influence of Christian 



ON OFFENCES. 



357 



society and public sentiment, for we are far removed from it, and 
we are peculiarly exposed to the assaults of the prince of dark- 
ness, who watches all his outposts with vigilance, and is ever 
ready to annoy those who make inroads on his long held do- 
minions. 

More particularly. It may be remarked, that offences arise 
among Christians : — 

1. From the weakness and follies of those who profess the 
name of Christ. Christians are but men, and it is one of the 
characteristics of our religion, that the poor and the ignoble, the 
despised of men, the weak and base ones of this world are among 
the first to embrace it. On such the men of this world naturally 
look down with scorn, and it would be no matter of wonder if. 
they were to take offence at them, even without any clue cause 
being given. In so far as the weaknesses and follies of Christians 
might have been avoided, it is their fault, if by their means, 
offences come. 

2. A prolific source of offences from the church is found in 
the want of entire union and harmony among its members. It 
was with prophetic foresight of the evils hence arising, that 
Christ Jesus insisted so much on the necessity of union, and the 
duty of love, in his last address to his disciples. Love was a dis- 
tinguishing peculiarity of the church in its youthful days, but alas, 
in our times, the love of many has waxed cold, and hence offences 
innumerable have arisen. 

The causes of discord among Christians are various, and to 
enumerate them all would be tedious. I shall therefore speak 
only of those which are likely to affect ourselves as missionaries, 
and which, unless we are extremely careful, will sow the seeds of 
most unpleasant feeling, and cause grievous offences to arise in 
the prosecution of our work. 

"We were once all strangers to each other. Our birth-places 
were different ; the societies in which we grew up were different ; 
the modes of thinking, and views of things, which almost uncon- 
sciously we have imbibed are different ; our habits are different ; 
our educations have been different. It is to be expected, there- 
fore, that the views we shall form as to many of the details of our 
duty in this land will be very different. True, the same work is 
before us all, — but we all look at it in different aspects. "We are 
each of us sufficiently attached to our own opinions, to feel very 
reluctant to give them up, especially on the representations of 



358 ON OFFENCES. 

others, who have perhaps but little, if any better opportunity of 
judging than ourselves. Yet we cannot all have our own way — 
there must be concession if we work together. If there be no 
conciliating spirit — if there be no disposition to yield, even where 
perhaps we may at times be in the right — if each one perseveres 
in maintaining his own opinion, regardless of the experience, the 
counsels, or the wishes of others, then my brethren, it requires no 
spirit of prophecy to foresee that there will be roots of bitterness 
springing up among us, and troubling us. Then, indeed, it must 
be that offences will come. 

Again, some Christians are weak and easily offended. There 
are some who are suspicious, and take offence where none was 
intended, and where none could be justly inferred. In such 
cases, the person who is offended, is in reality, the one who does 
the wrong, and must bear the blame of the evil that occurs. 
There are Christians whose unkind judgments of their fellow 
Christians' — whose ill-temper and peevishness are constantly cre- 
ating uneasiness and discord, and causing offences to come. 
There are some Christians who, by rash and thoughtless remarks, 
by foolish jesting, and general levity of behavior, offend, and 
cause others to offend. Think not that in making these remarks, 
I mean to intimate that I am not liable to the same charges. I 
speak of them because I have but too often found in myself the 
same errors and sins against which I would now warn you. In 
reference to all things that may cause discord among brethren, 
the words of the apostle are peculiarly applicable, Let us not judge 
one another any more; hut judge this rather ; that no man put a 
stwmbling -block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way, Rom. xiv. 
13, and also, We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the 
weak, and not to please ourselves, Rom. xv. 1. 

3. But the cause, which perhaps, above all others, makes 
offences to arise in the church, is a proud disposition and high 
esteem of one's self. Contests for the pre-eminence are as com- 
mon and as injurious in the church of Christ as anywhere else. 
Some will admit no superior, even where they have little or no 
claim to the superiority themselves. Sorry am I to say it, but I 
have heard more than one missionary to the heathen, say, " I am 
determined to stand in the first rank," "I will not submit to be 
ruled by another ;" and though my conscience reproved me for 
the harsh judgment, yet I could scarcely resist the belief that this 
was the feeling of others, who did not acknowledge it so frankly. 



ON OFFENCES. 



359 



Oh brethren, this is not the principle, on which the soldiers in 
Christ's army must act. We cannot all be captains and leaders 
in this warfare. There must be some to lead the front, and some 
to bring up the rear. There must be some to give directions, and 
others to obey. There must be some to stand in prominent 
places, and others to lie concealed. The true principle is, to 
acknowledge superiority wherever it exists — nay, more than this, 
it is, in honor to prefer one another, Eom. xii. 10, in lowliness of mind, 
let each esteem other letter than themselves, Phil. ii. 3. Yea, my 
brethren, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. "What 
matters it, if in this world you do not receive your due meed of 
applause, if men do not think of you as you deserve? perform 
your duty and in due time God shall lift you up, 1 Pet. v. 5. 

Oh this pride is a dreadful thing. Most of the quarrels and 
offences in the church have their origin in pride. By our vanity, 
our obstinate self-preference, our pertinacious self-seeking, we 
offend others. They are perhaps too proud to seek reparation, 
or we are too proud to give it when asked. Who could have 
supposed, if not taught it by experience, that vain-glory, and 
seeking for worldly honor, could have found room for their exer- 
cise in the church of Christ ? If there is sorrow in heaven, surely 
angels must weep over this. If there is joy in hell, surely Satan 
must rejoice in it. 

In all these ways — the weakness and follies of Christians — 
the want of union and harmony among them, and the effects of 
pride and ambition, it must needs be, that offences will come. 
Little does any one know of the world who has not observed, 
that these are the standing objections to religion — the common 
grounds on which men reject the gospel. Were it not for these 
offences, and such as these, it is but little that the enemies of the 
church could do or say against her. 

If. Let us consider, secondly, the words, woe unto the world, he- 
cause of offences. 

The condition of the world is bad enough, even when left to 
itself. It lies under the power of Satan, who as a strong man 
armed, keepeth his house, and his goods are in peace. The 
world has no will, and it has no wish to be delivered from his 
power. But when to all this is superadded the evil arising from 
the offences of the church, Woe, woe unto the world, because of 
offences. By these the eyes of the world, naturally blinded, are 
turned away from the light. By these the man who was already 



360 



ON" OFFENCES. 



sinking in the mire, is plunged yet more deeply into it. Through, 
the church comes the only hope of the world. But the offences 
of the church, cause her to lose her influence, and weaken her 
strength ; thus she enters on the contest for her Master at a great 
disadvantage. What must the Canaanite and the Perrizite who 
dwelt in the land, have thought of Abraham and Lot, and the 
God they worshipped, when the herdsmen of these brethren 
quarreled ? Gen. xiii. 7. Because the sons of Eli were sons of 
Belial, men abhorred the offering of the Lord. Nay, more than this. 
These men, who should most strenuously have stood up for the 
honor of God, were the very ones who made the Lord's people to 
transgress, 1 Sam. ii. 17, 24. When David sinned his great sin, he 
gave great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, 2 Sam. 
xii. 14. Oh how often must we hold down our heads with shame, 
when God's people offend. The offence does not stop with them. 
Christians are so united together, that if one suffers, all suffer — 
if one acts imprudently the offence is charged on all. Thus men's 
hearts are hardened against the gospel. Thus the beginnings of 
convictions for sins are quenched — thus men who were inquiring 
the way to Zion are disgusted, and turn back to the ruin of their 
souls. Thus the name of God is dishonored, Eom. ii. 24, and 
the way of truth is evil spoken of, 2 Pet. ii. 2. Alas, there be 
many now in hell who have been driven there by the sins of 
professing Christians, and there be many more who might have 
gone to heaven, had not the way been blocked up by the offences 
of those who should rather have taken the stumbling-blocks out 
of the way. Pitiable truly is the state of the world, when of- 
fences arise in the church. It is as though some great conflagra- 
tion were destroying the city, and the various companies of fire- 
men, instead of uniting their force to extinguish it, should waste 
their strength and time in contests with each other ; or in adding 
fuel to the flames, which they sought to quell. Woe unto the 
ivorld because of offences. 

III. Woe (also) to that man by whom the offence cometh / It is 
no light matter to stand in the way of any man's salvation. It is 
no light thing to have the blood of any man found in your skirts. 
It is no light matter to have, by your offences, impeded the pro- 
gress of the gospel. If you are really a child of God, you may 
be saved, notwithstanding by your weakness, or folly, or want of 
brotherly love, or sinful ambition and self-seeking, you may have 
caused an offence to come — but if saved, it will be so as by fire, 



OX OFFENCES. 



361 



1 Cor. iii. 15. God may grant you repentance, and pardon, but 
it will be with marks of his displeasure that you will not soon for- 
get. Because of the offence of David, the sword did never de- 
part from his house, 2 Sam. xii. 10. Because of the offence of 
the Corinthians touching the Lord's Supper, many were weak 
and sickly among them, and many slept, 1 Cor. xi. 30. 

Do not understand me as saying, that if a child of God offends, 
he will certainly be visited with outward judgments. A woe 
may be inflicted on him, unseen by men, and unfelt for the time 
by himself, and yet far more severe than any outward judgment. 
The Lord may send leanness and barrenness on your soul on 
earth, and in the other world, through your offences, your seat 
in glory may be far lower than it would otherwise have been. 
And if there can be sorrow in heaven, with how much sorrow 
will you look back to the offences of which on earth you were 
guilty, and by which you may have injured the cause of a God 
so good, and a Father so kind, as is our Father in heaven. 

If you are a professor of religion, but not a true child of God, 
and offences come by you — woe, woe unto you ! And remem- 
ber, in proportion to the frequency and magnitude of your of- 
fences, will be the evidence that you are not a Christian. It is 
bad enough to be a false professor. It is ruin enough to have 
the form without the power of godliness ; but to add offences 
which injure the body of Christ to all this, oh it is terrible be- 
yond the power of language to express. The So?i of man shall 
send forth his angels and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things 
that offend, and them which do iniquity ; and shall cast them into the 
furnace of fire, there shall he wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matt, 
xiii. 41, 42. It is impossible but that offences will come; but woe 
unto that man through whom they come ! It ivere better for him that 
a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than 
that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves, 
Luke xvii. 1-3. 

In the practical application of this subject, I may remark, 

I. Learn, hence, to avoid all such as give offence, so far as 
lies in your power. We are prone enough to give offence in our- 
selves, without unnecessarily associating with those who may 
still more lead us astray. Now, I beseech you, brethren, says the 
apostle Paul, mark them ivhich cause divisions and offences, contrary 
to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them, Bom. xvi. 17. 
Yea, he says in another place, Now ice command you, brethren, in 



362 *- ON OFFENCES. 

the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from 
every brother that walketh disorderly. Note that mom, and have no 
company with him, that he may be ashamed, 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14. 
This, it is to be remembered, is only an extreme measure. Our 
first duty, in case of an offence on the part of a Christian brother, 
is to go and tell him of his fault alone. If this prove ineffectual, 
then take two or three others, and remonstrate. If he persist, 
then withdraw thyself. Such is our duty, fellow-Christians, and 
were there more faithfulness in performing it, there would fewer 
offences come. 

2. If you would learn how to avoid giving offence, study 
carefully the example of the apostle Paul. In the 1 Cor. viii. 13, 
he says, If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh wh ile 
the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. A most prolific 
source of offences, is the pertinacious standing up for our own 
rights, in all cases. To decide when we should maintain our cause, 
and when we should suffer wrong, is a difficult thing. No uni- 
form rule can be laid down ; but in general a careful adherence to 
the apostle's rule will secure the object we desire. Give none 
offence, neither to the Jew, nor to the Gentile, nor to the church of God; 
even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but 
the profit of many, that they may be saved, 1 Cor. x. 32, 33. Be ye, 
therefore, followers of the apostle. Let his burning love for souls, 
and his flaming zeal for God, possess your hearts, and you shall 
be in little danger of exposing yourselves to the woe denounced 
in the text. 

3. Finally. It must needs be that offences ivill come. Do not, 
therefore, expect that none will trouble you. Do not be disap- 
pointed, grieved, or discouraged, if they arise to disturb you in 
your labors. Lay your plans in reference to them, and prepare 
your minds to bear them in a Christian spirit when they come. 
They will come. Only see to it, that you be not the offenders. 
Keep yourselves clear, and when they do come, do not aggravate 
them ; but, on the contrary, do all in your power to remove 
them, and prevent their evil consequences. Judge nothing before 
the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden 
things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts ; 
and then shall every man have praise of Goal, 1 Cor. iv. 5. 

Ningpo, May 11, 1845. 



SERMON XLI 

PREACHING TO THE GENTILES. 

Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was 
opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not 
Titus, my brother : but taking my leave of them, I went thence into Macedonia. 
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and 
maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we 
are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them 
that perish : to the one we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other 
the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things ? For we 
are not as many which corrupt the word of God, but as of sincerity: but as 
of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. — 2 Cor. ii. 12-17. 

It was during Paul's first visit to Europe, after tie had been 
to Philippi, Thessalonica, and Athens, that he visited the wealthy 
and luxurious city of Corinth. Yet dissolute, even to a proverb, 
as were the manners and character of the people, God informed 
him that he had much people there, and the apostle in conse- 
quence remained more than a year and a half. During this long 
residence he became much acquainted with the people, and 
deeply interested in the spiritual welfare of his converts. Leav- 
ing them, he departed to Syria and Jerusalem, and then came to 
Ephesus, where he remained more than two years. During this 
time, the church at Corinth, surrounded with all the wickedness 
of a city, whose very religion was debauchery, became sadly 
infected with the spirit of the place, and relapsed into the vices 
from which they had so recently been washed. God might have 
said to Paul, as he once said to Moses respecting Israel, This peo- 
ple whom thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, have quickly 
corrupted themselves, Exod. xxxii. 7, 8. In consequence of this, 
the apostle wrote them his first Epistle, in which he very severely 
reproves their evil courses. It was written from Ephesus, shortly 
before the tumult excited there by Demetrius, the silversmith, 
1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9, and such was the apostle's anxiety respecting 
them, that, either at the same time or very shortly after, he sent 



364 PREACHING TO THE GENTILES. 

Titus to inquire concerning their state, and bring him word. 
Shortly after the first Epistle to the Corinthians was written, the 
riot occurred at Ephesus, which made it necessary for the apostle 
to leave that place, Acts xix. 

In furtherance of a plan previously formed, he went to Troas, 
meaning to proceed thence to Macedonia, and thence to Corinth. 
At Troas he found an open door of usefulness, many were ready 
to hear the word, and the Lord had prepared the way for him. 
But such was his anxiety to hear respecting the state of the Co- 
rinthian church, that, not finding Titus at Troas, from whom he 
expected to have heard, he had no rest in his spirit, and was con- 
strained to pass by the opened door at Troas, and hasten on to 
Macedonia. Here, too, he found no rest. Titus, it seemed, had 
not yet returned from Corinth, and in his great anxiety for his 
spiritual children, and his many cares, he was troubled on every 
side; without were fightings, and within were fears, 2 Cor. vii. 5. 
But here at length Titus met him, with such accounts from the 
Corinthian church, as satisfied the apostle's utmost expectations. 
Under the gratifying effects of this news, he penned this epistle 
in which he declares himself comforted, so that he rejoiced the more, 
2 Cor. vii. 6, 7. 

The apostle had been deeply anxious for the Corinthian 
church, and with reason. It was a light set in an important place , 
he had bestowed much labor there; he had greatly rejoiced in 
their Christian advancement, and had boasted of them to others. 
For awhile he was in great distress, for they had backslidden, and 
he feared lest he had bestowed labor in vain, and should find reason 
to be ashamed of his confident boasting. But the news by Titus 
relieved him from these fears, and gave him a new proof that his 
work being accepted of God would not prove fruitless. Full of 
these thoughts, he gives hearty thanks to God, who by his means 
had made himself manifest in so many places. He had gone 
forth in his missionary work in weakness and fear, and unsup- 
ported by human strength or recommendations ; but God made 
him to triumph, and made manifest the savor of the knowledge 
of himself by his means in every place. The savor of the knowl- 
edge of God, means the delight, or the spiritual satisfaction arising 
in the mind of the believer from the perception of the true char- 
acter of God, and of - Jesus Christ. It is that which is referred 
to in figurative language in the Song of Solomon, where the 
church says to the Saviour, 



PKEACHING- TO THE GENTILES. 



365 



Thy name is as ointment poured forth, 

Therefore do the virgins love thee. 
Such, knowledge is possessed only by those to whom God gives 
the spiritual understanding to discern it, just as sweet tastes and 
pleasant perfumes are perceived only by those whose bodily 
senses are perfect, 1 Cor. ii. 13-15, and unless God gives this spir- 
itual discernment, even Paul will preach in vain. But wherever 
Paul had preached, God had granted to some, this spiritual un- 
derstanding, and hence the apostle's gratitude, Thanks be unto 
God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maheth mani- 
fest the savor of the knowledge of himself in every place. 

It has been noted as a characteristic of the apostle Paul, that 
in his epistles, the use of a word leads to a new and striking 
train of thought which he pursues for a few sentences to the 
temporary neglect of the subject immediately in hand. It is so 
here. Having spoken of the savor of the knowledge of God, the 
word savor suggests the sweet savor of an acceptable sacrifice, as 
illustrative of the acceptance with which God received his own 
services, and the idea is pursued in one or two very striking and 
solemn sentences. By him, and such as he, the sweet savor of 
the knowledge of God is made to men, some of whom endued 
with spiritual tastes receive and delight in it, while others reject 
it as tasteless and unprofitable. But in either case his services 
are accepted, and come up as sweetly before God, as the smell of 
the offering of Noah, when with his saved family he knelt and 
sacrificed amidst the ruins of a former world. We are of God 
(says the apostle), a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, 
and in them that perish. 

In every place, God is glorified by the preaching of his word, 
and his faithful servants are accepted in their ministrations ; but 
let it not be supposed that he is glorified only by the salvation of 
those that believe, and accepts only the services that end in sal- 
vation. There are few places, where at least, some of those who 
hear the word are not saved ; there are no places, where many 
hearing, are not lost, but in each of these cases, in the salvation 
of the saint, and the aggravated condemnation of the sinner, the 
savor of the knowledge of God — his mercy, justice, and holiness 
— are made known, and the ministrations of his servants come 
up before him for a sweet savor. But how different are the 
results, each of which tend to the glory of God, and in each of 
which his servants are accepted ! In the one case, life and im- 



866 



PREACHING- TO THE GENTILES. 



mortal joys are given ; in the other, death and deeper damnation 
ensue. Life unto life; Death unto death. Such are the solemn 
results. Oh, it is a solemn thing to be a minister of God, when 
such results depend upon our ministry. Well might the apostle 
exclaim, And who is sufficient for these things f who can contem- 
plate unmoved such results following his efforts ! How anxious 
should we be, that it be not our fault that any perish ! 

In the last verse of the chapter, the apostle returns to the 
subject from which he had been led off, by the mention of the 
word savor, and gives the reasons why God was pleased to accept 
of his services in every place. He was accepted of God, because 
he constantly gave himself with all diligence to his work ; and 
that not as many, who from fear, covetousness, or the love of 
applause, held back, perverted, or corrupted the word of God ; 
but speaking in the utmost sincerity and openness, so as to 
challenge examination of his motives, as the messenger of God, 
as in the very sight and presence of God, and in full dependence 
on Christ, he delivered his message, whether men would hear or 
whether they would forbear. We are not as many, who corrupt 
the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of 
God speak we in Christ. 

Such seems to have been the train of thought in the apostle's 
mind, when penning the passages to which we are now attending. 
In speaking farther on it, I desire to call your attention to some 
of the truths it suggests, particularly under these three heads. 

I. The proper character. 

II. The unfailing results. 

III. The solemn responsibilities of preaching the Gospel. 
The words of the apostle had special reference to preaching to 

the heathen, for he was the apostle of the Gentiles, and was now 
writing to a church called from the midst of idolaters ; and they 
are peculiarly applicable to us, who either as ordained ministers, 
or as assistant missionaries, are endeavoring to preach to the hea- 
then. The truths they contain, however, are not for the heathen 
alone. They are for each of us who has heard the word of 
Christ. 

I. The proper character or style, in which the gospel should 
be preached to the heathen. We shall not easily find a better 
description of the proper character of such preaching, than that 
in the last verse of the chapter before us, and that in several par- 
ticulars. 



PKEACHING TO THE GENTILES. 



367 



1. Not corrupting the word of God. The word corrupting {xanr}- 
Xevovxsg) is taken from the practice of fraudulent venders of wine, 
and fruits, who mix good and bad articles together to increase 
their bulk, or make them pass off more readily, themselves aim- 
ing at their own profit in what they do, and little regardful of the 
injury that may accrue to their customers. Now the apostle had 
a doctrine to preach, very unpalatable, and even loathsome to 
men's natural taste. To the Jews a stumbling -block, and to the 
Greeks foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23. He could very easily have pruned 
off some of these offensive features. He could very easily have 
mixed up somethiDg of human reason, and human merit, to ren- 
der it more attractive and palatable. He could very easily have 
preached circumcision, or the sufficiency of our own righteous- 
ness, and thus the offence of the cross would have ceased. But 
his object was not thus to corrupt the word of God, but to set it 
forth in its native simplicity and purity. Though it cut like a 
two-edged sword, though it stirred up the hatred and anger of the 
natural heart, yet he was not the man to blunt its edge, or make 
it an instrument to tickle the ears, instead of piercing the hearts 
of his hearers. 

Therefore, brethren, when we preach the word of God to the 
heathen, let us preach it in its purity. If they are offended, be it 
so, provided they are offended at the truth, and not at any negli- 
gence of ours — at the message, and not at the messenger. Let us 
not be like the many missionaries of the Eoman Catholic church, 
and others, who, bearing our Master's name, have substituted a 
baptized idolatry in place of Christianity. Proclaim the whole 
word of God, and let no heathen superstitions be added with it. 
If we were to connive at the worship of ancestors, we might in- 
duce many to renounce other forms of idolatry. If we were to 
insist only on good works, and merit, and reward, we should 
have many more to applaud our doctrine, than if we insist on to- 
tal depravity, repentance, the new birth, mortification of sin, and 
the worthlessness of human good deeds. It is not long ago since 
a native of this place said to me, half angrily, " Why do you talk 
so much about the heart ? Why are you not satisfied to admon- 
ish men to do good, and let the heart take care of itself?" There 
are many doctrines in Christianity, which the natural man receiveth 
not, but they must not therefore be kept back. The pure ivord of 
God, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, — such 
is the message we are to bear to this people. We shall not in- 



368 



PKEACHING TO THE GENTILES. 



crease our own reputation by so doing ; we shall not hear them 
passing hollow compliments, and saying, "It is very good doc- 
trine." We may have to endure opposition, scorn, or, worse than 
all, indifference ; but in the midst of it all, be this our first care, — 
not to corrupt the word of God. He that hath my word, let him, 
speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat ? saith the 
Lord. Is not my word like as a fire f saith the Lord ; and like a 
hammer, that hreaketh the rock in pieces, Jer. xxiii. 28, 29. Let us 
fill our own minds with confidence in the word of God. Let us 
be well satisfied of its power, let it dwell richly in our hearts, and 
let us give it forth with all purity and force, speaking it, not as 
the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God. 

2. Sincerity. The word eihagipeia here used denotes that sin- 
cerity which will bear examination in the full light of the sun, 
and the meaning is, that our hearts and motives in all our preach- 
ing must be so pure that they will bear the most searching 
examination not only of other men, or even of our own con- 
sciences, but of God himself. What are your motives, brethren, 
in proclaiming God's word here ? or desiring the conversion of 
any particular person, be it a teacher, a servant, a pupil, or a 
friend ? Is it that you may thereby obtain the credit of his con- 
version, and have it said of you, such a one is very pious and 
useful, he has converted so many persons? Is it that you may 
have it reported at home, that you are doing something among 
the heathen? Is it that you may have some one who will, being 
converted, be of more use to yourself and help you on in your 
studies or plans ? Is it because you think you have been labor- 
ing so long and so faithfully, that you deserve some such token 
of God's acceptance ? Oh brethren, none of these motives will 
bear examination, nor will fifty others that might easily be named. 
The glory of God, the advancement of Christ's kingdom, com- 
passion for perishing souls, sorrow to see them sin against God, 
these, and such as these, should be the prevailing motives. 
Honor, ease, or fame, all such selfish, proud, self-aggrandizing 
motives, as well as a double heart, must be utterly rejected if we 
would aspire to the character of sincerity. 

3. In the sight of God. His eye is ever on us, he watches us, 
he ponders all our ways. How much diligence therefore should 
we give, that our work may be acceptable to him. If he sees us 
slothful or loitering in our work, taking our pleasure instead of 
seeking his glory, not watching for him when he comes, how can 



PREACHING TO THE GENTILES. 



869 



we be esteemed faithful servants, or enter into his joy ? Let us 
therefore be diligent in our work, remembering the account we 
must render to him at last. 

4. As ambassadors of God and of Christ, and in entire depend- 
ence on the power of him who sends us. As his ambassadors we 
must needs be impressed with the dignity and importance of our 
work, and speak with authority, yet without pride. T\ e must be 
affectionate, earnest, solemn, and full of prayer for the blessing 
of Christ, and the influences of the Holy Spirit to rest on our 
labors: both as in this imitating the example of Christ, and as 
knowing that it is only thus we can hope to succeed. 

II. The unfailing results of such preaching. These results are 
such as concern ourselves, our hearers, and God. 

1. Vfe shall triumph, thanks be unto God which always causeth 
us to triumph in Christ. There is an allusion here to the triumphs 
which the Roman people awarded to their victorious generals. 
After being out in many a hard-fought battle-field, after much 
exposure to hunger and storm and peril, the soldier gained the 
victory, and returned to his native city to receive the honors and 
rewards its gratitude awarded. Proudly showing his wounds and 
scars, and displaying the spoils of the enemy, the trophies of bat- 
tle, and the captives who followed in his train, he was carried 
along in triumph through the streets of the imperial city. Even 
so, but far more glorious, and far purer shall be the triumph of 
the faithful soldiers of Christ. Here, then, life is a warfare, hard 
and dangerous, and at times the victory seems unattainable. But 
through him who strengthened its, we shall overcome every 
enemy, and in due season God will cause us to ride upon the 
horses and chariots of salvation, and dwell, with the crowns and 
the palm-wreaths of victory, in the everlasting city, whose name 
is Jehovah Sharnnah, the Lord, is there. Is not this assured hope 
a sufficient motive to thankfulness and perseverance? 

2. The results as they concern our hearers are two-fold, 
Some will hear and lice — some will hear and die. It will probably 
produce both of these results : it will certainly produce at least 
one of them. Every sermon faithfully preached will accomplish 
something. The word shall not return void. It shall accomplish 
ichat God pleases, and prosper in that whereto he has sent it, Is. Iv. 11. 
Some will hear and be saved. lt Life unto life ! " How glorious 
is the prospect this short sentence opens to us ! On earth there 
is life, and all life is beautiful. There is the life of the tender 

24 



370 



PKEACHING TO THE GENTILES. 



grass, and the oak ; the bloom of the flower, and the refreshing 
greenness of the leaf. There is the life of the animal, the sport- 
iveness of the young, and the usefulness of the full-grown ; and 
there is the life of the natural man, and the play of the social feel- 
ings, and the busy hum of multitudes. But there is another life 
of man than this. It is the life of the soul, born of the Spirit s. 
under the preaching of the word, and nourished by its sincere 
milk. This is a life that cannot die. It advances, though by 
slow and painful steps on earth, but with an amazing bound it 
enters heaven. There it is like a new life. It is life unto life. 
Like the change from the sluggish caterpillar to the butterfly, 
such is the change from life on earth to life in heaven. But its 
upward progress does not cease when it enters heaven. There it 
is ever expanding in intellect, affections, and holiness, and by 
such rapid degrees, that each degree will seem like added life. 
Life unto life! Christian, look up, far up to the blissful regions 
on high, and contemplate the unfading glories of that state of 
endless progression. Life unto life ! There is no death there, but 
ever onward and upward, and nearer to God the fountain of all 
life. How glorious is the Christian's hope, and how glorious is 
this result of the preacher's work ! Brethren ! one soul saved by 
our means from among the heathen, will more than repay all our 
toils on their behalf. 

But there is another side to the picture, another prospect for 
us to contemplate. Many will hear and be lost, and the result in 
their case will be, Death unto death. They would have been lost 
if we had not preached ; we offered them mercy, they refused, 
and now Death unto death. There is death on the earth, and all 
death is sorrowful. The fading and scattered flower, the prostrate 
oak, the withered leaf, the neglected skeleton of an animal, and 
this frame, so fearfully and wonderfully made, deprived of its life, 
a mass of corruption, or a heap of bones. No wonder there is 
sorrow in the world when death comes. But there is a death 
more terrible than all this. The soul, too, can die. The death 
of the body transmits the unregenerate soul to the second, the un- 
ending death. It is death unto death ; and even as the years of 
eternity roll on, its capacities are enlarged, and its sufferings are 
more acute. Oh, sinner ! look down into the yawning gulf that 
awaits you, if you continue impenitent. There is no life there, 
but anguish and remorse, and despair ; yea, from misery to mis- 
ery — from despair unto despair — from death unto death, and that 



PKEACHING TO THE GENTILES. 



371 



forever and ever. May God grant that none of us shall ever ex- 
perience this dreadful end ! 

This, too, is one of the solemn results of our ministry ; and in 
this, too, God is glorified, and his justice and slighted mercy are 
avenged. Therefore, even in the case of those who are lost, we 
are unto God a sweet savor, though it be a savor of death unto death. 

III. The solemn responsibilities of our work. Now because these 
things are so, we see what are our responsibilities. These are 
solemn results, and upon our faithfulness, oh how much depends. 
u Take care !" was the counsel given to an artist. " Take care ! 
you are working for eternity !" We too are working for eternity. 
Even if faithful, how can we ourselves bear such a responsibility ? 
Who is sufficient for these things f But if not faithful — if we do 
the work of the Lord with but half an heart, what shall be said 
to us ? If we had not come and spoken to this people, they would 
have perished ; but if we come and speak unfaithfully, they will 
more surely perish. Better would it be, we had not come at all, 
than to come and cumber the ground, or close the door against 
more faithful laborers, and if in addition to being ourselves un- 
fruitful, and mere cumberers of the ground, we become stumbling- 
blocks, woe ! woe unto us ! It was to his own disciples that 
Christ said. Woe unto the world, because of offences ! It is impossible 
but that offences will come; but woe unto that man by whom the of 
fence cometh, Matt, xviii. 7. 

If we would rightly bear these responsibilities, if in either re- 
sult of our ministry, we would be accepted of God, then must 
we imitate the apostle, and perform all our works in Christ's 
name, and in reliance on his grace to forgive, and his merits to 
accept. We are unto God, says the apostle, a sweet savor in Christ. 
To him then let us come. Let us daily renew our union and 
communion with him. Baptized with his Spirit — the Spirit of 
real compassion and love — let us go forth to our work among this 
people. Supported by his sufficient grace, let us persevere to the 
end of our course. And at the last relying on his merits, and 
protected by the atonement he has made, we shall stand accepted, 
and our work approved in the sight of God. 

Inference 1. Diligence, much prayer, and compassion for souls 
are indispensable qualifications of a missionary. Who can con- 
sider that such results are likely to follow his ministry, and re- 
main unmoved. If moved to pity, he must needs pray, and sin- 
cere prayer will result in diligent action. 



372 



PREACHING TO THE GENTILES. 



2. Faithfulness and courage are no less necessary, for we must 
lay open the whole heart of man in all its wickedness, and the 
whole law of God in all its truth and plainness. This will excite 
much odium, especially here, where the rules of politeness allow 
and require a man to gloss over any and every unpalatable truth. 

3. We must learn not to be discouraged at the partial success 
that attends our efforts, or to measure our usefulness only by the 
number of converts. It is most probable that success, at least to 
a degree, will attend our efforts, and it should be expected, and 
prayed for. But bear also in mind that Elijah thought himself 
entirely unsuccessful, and that God may not be pleased to show us 
how much we have accomplished. Let us learn such submission 
to the will of God, as to be willing to labor on without apparent 
success, if it be his holy will. But beware of resting on the se- 
cret purposes of God, and making our conjectures of what they 
may be, the rule of our dut}^. It is our part to labor after the 
conversion of souls, and if we are faithful we shall probably see 
it. At all events, let us measure our faithfulness by the word of 
God, and not by any such standard as the number of converts, or 
the opinion of men. 

4. Compassion for souls, and earnest desire for their salvation 
and advancement in holiness, are equally indispensable. Look 
at the case of the apostle Paul, who found no rest, when he feared 
his children were not walking in the truth, and who had no great- 
er joy than in the conversion of souls. What are our feelings on 
this point ? 

5. Finally, whatever is done, whatever is hoped for, let it all 
be in and through Jesus Christ. 



Ningpo, February 2, 1846. 



SERMON XLIL 



REPENTANCE. 

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name 
of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the 
Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all 
that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. — Acts ii. 38, 39. 

These words form the conclusion of the first sermon preached 
by the apostles of Christ in the Christian dispensation. The 
preacher was Peter, and others, the apostles who had seen the 
Saviour both before and after his resurrection ; the theme was 
Christ, and him crucified, and the Holy Spirit was present by his 
miraculous gifts, but above all by his converting grace to apply 
the truth to the hearers' hearts. The hearers were of the num- 
ber of those who, but a few weeks before, had joined in the 
furious cry, Away with him ! away with him ! Crucify him ! 
crucify him I But now a change came over the spirit of their 
minds, and deeply impressed, and pricked in their hearts, the cry 
burst from three thousand lips, Men and brethren, what shall 
we do f 

It is a remarkable fact, that, in cases of conviction of sin, and 
conversion to God, this is always one of the first questions that is 
asked. Be the convicted person a heathen, or a nominal Chris- 
tian — let him in his former life have been well instructed, or pro- 
foundly ignorant of the truths of Christianity — when once the 
Spirit of God awakens him from his death-like slumber, he is 
obliged to ask the way to Zion. Like the man long wandering 
and bewildered in a forest, when he at last comes to the right 
path, he knows not in what direction to shape his course, and 
must needs inquire of others the way of safety. With the letter 
of God's word he may have been familiar enough, but its spiritual 
meaning, the natural man, and the natural understanding per- 
ceiveth not, and when the Spirit of God begins to open his eyes, 



374 



REPENTANCE. 



he sees how little lie understood before. The question also 
implies a hearty desire to know and to do the will of God, what- 
ever it be, in order to obtain the salvation of their souls. So 
when Paul was struck down by the brightness above the bright- 
ness of the sun, and heard the voice of Jesus whom he persecuted, 
reproving his sinful and dangerous course, then, trembling and 
astonished, he said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do f Acts ix. 6. 

This is a question, for which an answer must and will be 
found. There is no man, whose eyes are opened to see the 
wrath of God as it is revealed against sin, and who feels that, for 
his sin, he is in danger of sinking to the bottomless pit of perdi- 
tion, who will not seek some way of escape. There is no man 
who can, unmoved, look down into the yawning gulf that opens 
to receive the sinner, and feels that such may be his portion, too, 
who will not endeavor to avoid the impending ruin. But here a 
danger, scarcely less great than the one he seeks to avoid, is but 
too apt to befall the inquiring soul. Many false prophets are gone 
out into the ivorld, and by them, thousands who have been led to 
ask, What must we do to be saved? have been deceived, and 
pointed into courses of action, and ways of escape, which, in the 
end, do but involve them in deeper, and more irremediable woe. 
It is the interest of Satan, our great adversary, that such deceit 
should be practised, and the native sinfulness of our own hearts 
renders us but too liable to fall into the snare. If, therefore, my 
hearers, any of you are now asking, or have ever asked, What 
must ive do to be saved? grant me, I pray you, your careful atten- 
tion, whilst considering the answer which Peter gave to the 
question. His answer is full both of instruction for the ignorant, 
and encouragement for the anxious, the very classes by whom 
the great question is commonly asked, — and what may be fur- 
ther said in this discourse, will be under the two heads : 1. The 
instructive command; 2. The cheering promise, which he addressed 
to his hearers on the day of Pentecost, and which are equally ad- 
dressed to us, who, in these ends of the earth, are met on this 
Sabbath day to hear the word of God. 

1. The instructive command of the apostle, Repent, and be 
baptized. There is no command of Scripture of more universal 
application than this. There were times and places when God 
saw fit to wink at the wickedness of those who had not the law 
of God, but now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent, Acts 
xvii. 30. I am aware that some men think it an antiquated doc- 



REPENTANCE. 



375 



trine. It is indeed old, as old as the first transgression in Eden, 
did we think fit to trace it so far back ; but it is sufficient at 
present to remark, that it formed the burden of the discourses of 
John the Baptist, when speaking to those who, like ourselves, 
enjoyed every external privilege. Repent ye, for tlie kingdom of 
heaven is at hand, Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance. 
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, Matt. iii. 2, 8, 11. 
This, too, formed the burden of the first sermon of a greater than 
John the Baptist — him of whom Moses in the law, and the pro- 
phets did speak — even of Jesus of Nazareth. From that time 
Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven 
is at hand, Matt, iv. 17. In his last command to his disciples, he 
gave orders that repentance and remission of sins should be preached 
in his name among all nations, beginniny at Jerusalem, Luke xxiv. 
17. I know not how its importance or necessity could be more 
solemnly enforced, than it was by our Saviour, when he said to 
the Jews, Think ye that these men ivere sinners above all men, because 
they suffered such things? I tell you nay / but except ye repent, ye 
shall all likewise perish, Luke xiii. 1-5. It was the burden of the 
apostle's preaching everywhere. What Paul said to the Ephe- 
sians, that he had testified both to the Jeics, and also to the Greeks, 
repentance towards God,- and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Acts xx. 21 — that might all the apostles, in their sphere, and 
every faithful minister of Christ down to our days, say too. 
Never has a sinner from our world entered heaven, who did not 
begin his course by repentance. There is joy in the presence of 
the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, Luke xv. 10, 
and till the world shall end, none shall be saved who does not 
repent. The doctrine, therefore, is as old as the first sin in Eden, 
it is as permanent and firm as the word of God itself, and heaven 
and earth shall pass away, ere it becomes an antiquated or a use- 
less story. 

Bat. I think I hear some of my hearers say, What is this 
marvellous doctrine of which such things are said, and to which 
so much importance is attached ? On this point there are many 
mistakes, and it is easy to err. I may say in a few words, that 
repentance does not consist in penances, bodily austerities and 
mortification, or fasting. It is not a gloomy face. It is not 
asceticism, or morose renunciation of the world, or bitter declama- 
tion against its follies and immoralities. It does not consist in a 
formal confession of sin and ill-desert, such as is daily made by 



376 KEPENTANCE, 

thousands, who are like the man spoken of by the apostle James, 
who, beholding his natural fate in a glass, goeth his way, and straight- 
way forgetteth what manner of man he was, James i. 24. Nor does 
it consist in that fear and hatred of sin, which many have, when 
they find themselves either actually suffering for it, or apprehen- 
sive of incurring God's everlasting vengeance. The repentance 
from fear of punishment alone, is but the fear and the hatred of 
crime which the criminal has when the halter is round his neck ; 
but as soon as you release him he plunges into his follies and 
crimes as eagerly as ever. True repentance, I repeat it, is some- 
thing very different from all this. The Greek word juejuvota, by 
which it is expressed in the New Testament, signifies a change of 
mind — an alteration of the ruling passions, desires and affections 
of the soul, so that what was once chiefly sought after, the world 
and its vain delights, loses its charms ; and what was once post- 
poned and neglected, God, his righteousness, and service, take 
the first place, and receive the principal attention. This is a 
mighty change to be wrought in a sinner's heart, and deserves a 
more particular attention. 

I remark then further, that repentance consists in a true sense 
of sin. On nothing is there more misapprehension among men, 
than in regard to the nature of sin. This would be really won- 
derful, had not the apostles warned us of the deceitfulness of sin, 
and the craft of Satan, who often shows himself as an angel of light, 
so that men are utterly blinded as to its true nature. Sin does 
not consist only or chiefly in outward actions. The deeds of 
which it is a shame even to speak ; the profane language which 
gentlemen do not use, and the trick and meannesses which honest 
men despise ; these are bad enough, but these are only the fruits 
of sin, which proceed from the evil heart that every man has, 
and the sin that dwelleth in us. God's restraining providence, the 
influence of society, or the force of early education, may restrain 
a man from these, and his outward deportment may be in the 
main blameless, while from his heart a holy God turns away from 
him. Which of you, my hearers, would be willing to unfold 
before this little audience, all the secret thoughts and imagina- 
tions of your hearts, even for one single day? Who is there that 
would tell to his dearest friend the whole history of his soul? 
But remember God sees and knows it all, and what think you 
must be the feelings of him who is of purer eyes than to behold 
iniquity, at the spectacle which he every day beholds in every 



KEPENTANCE. 



377 



human breast ? The seat of sin is in the heart, which the prophet 
Jeremiah tells us, is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, 
Jer. xvii. 9. Every imagination is only evil continually , Gen. vi. 5. 
This wickedness commences at the earliest period possible, nay, 
in the words of the inspired Psalmist, i" was shapen in iniquity ) and 
in sin did my mother conceive me, Ps. li. 5. Sin in its own nature 
is the worst thing in the universe; it is that abominable thing 
which God hateih; but how much greater is its aggravation, when 
we reflect, that all sin, even our sins against our fellow-men, are 
yet more directly against God, that God who created, who watches 
over and does us good? Against thee, thee only have I sinned, Ps. 
li. 4. In our case too, my hearers, it is worse than the sin of the 
heathen around us, for we sin against the clear word of God, 
which we have had from our infancy, and. the unspeakable grace 
of Christ which has been made known unto us. Oh look upon 
him whom you have pierced, and mourn. Whatever we may think 
of sin, it was no light matter to Christ, when for our sins, he 
poured out his blood, and offered up his life, as a sacrifice to God. 

Sin also defiles the soul. The various penances and purifi- 
cations of the Levitical law, were all intended to show its defiling 
nature. It unfits man for communion and intercourse with his 
Creator. I know that to us, who are accustomed to live away 
from God, and to think of him as one very far off from us, this 
may seem a small thing, a light evil; but it did not seem so 
to Adam, when in the days of his innocence he walked uncon- 
scious of shame in the garden of Eden. How soon did he hide 
himself from the face of God, when by sin he had forfeited his 
favor, and rendered himself unworthy of the high privilege of 
being a son of Ood f 

Sin, too, hath a dreadful punishment in reserve. God is 
angry with the zuicked every day, Ps. vii. 11. He may not manifest 
his anger at once, but his wrath is not therefore the less certain. 
His justice and his holiness alike demand its punishment, and in 
due season it will come, For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the 
king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof 
is fire and much wood; and the breath of the Lord like a stream of 
brimstone doth kindle it, Is. xxx. 33. 

The sinner who is truly convicted and repents of his sin, is to 
some extent aware of these truths, and they cannot but fill his 
mind with uneasiness. I pretend not to say how much sorrow, 
or how deep distress any man must feel in repentance for sin, but 



378 



EEPENTiuNCE. 



I would give very little for that religion that does not commence 
in sorrow, or for that experience that is not ready to pray with 
the Psalmist, Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy 
sight shall no man living be justified, Ps. cxliii. 2. 

But true repentance consists not simply in sorrow and fear. 
It is joined to an " apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ,'' 
The convicted sinner is deeply impressed with the sense of his 
own sinfulness, ill-deserts, and utter helplessness; he also sees 
that his sins have helped to nail our Saviour to his cross, and this 
conviction fills him with more sorrow than anything else; but 
while thus sorrowing and repenting he also sees that that crucified 
Lord is able to save him from the power and dominion of his sins, 
that the object of his sufferings and death was to provide an 
atonement for men, and that, there is forgiveness with him, that he 
may be feared, Ps. cvii. 7. This sense of the evil of sin, and of the 
mercy of Christ, which has provided a ransom and a way of escape 
for the sinner, fills his heart with grief and hatred of his sin. He 
loathes himself for it, he hates all sin. He wonders at the love 
of Christ which can pardon, and the wisdom and grace which 
found the means of doing so. There is no sin he does not abhor, 
and herein is one of the surest tests of the sincerity and genuine- 
ness of your repentance. If there be some sin, some little evil, 
which you are not willing to abandon — if there be some one point 
on which you still wish to adhere to the world, and gratify your 
natural self — your repentance is not genuine. True repentance 
hates sin because it is sin, and though you were willing to give 
up every other sin, yet if there be some darling lust, some one 
evil thing which you are unwilling to abandon, then my beloved 
hearer, I must say unto you, you do not really hate sin. You do 
not really desire to be freed from it. Your repentance is not 
genuine, and except you repent, you must perish. Call not this an 
hard saying. It was Christ himself who said, Whosoever he be of 
you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple, Luke 
xiv. 33. Christ must save you from all your sins, or he will save 
you from none at all, Christ must make you perfectly holy, or 
your portion must be with those that are without, for into the 
holy city there shall in no wise enter anything that defileth or zoorheth 
abomination, Eev. xxi. 27. Hence observe the force of the words 
of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, Godly sorroiu worlceth re- 
pentance unto salvation, not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the 
world worheth death. For behold this selfsame thing that ye sorrowed 



REPENTANCE. 



379 



after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what 
clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, 
what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all 
things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter, 2 Cor. 
vii. 10. 11. As the sinner who truly repents, thus grieves for, 
and Lutes his sins, so does he turn from them with? full purpose 
of, and endeavor after new obedience. As he has given himself 
in times past as the servant of sin, so does he desire to give him- 
self in time to come, as the servant of holiness. If like the 
apostle Paul, in earlier life he has been pre-eminent in sin, like 
the apostle Paul, in later life he should be the more earnest in 
the service of Him who pardons, and saves him from his sin. 
The service of God is naturally distasteful and irksome to men, 
but the change that comes over the repenting sinner is so great, 
that it becomes his greatest delight. Eepentance is indeed but 
another word for a new creation — for as already remarked, the 
original word peravota imports nothing less than an entire change of 
the whole current of the thoughts, affections, and desires of the soul. 

Being thus changed, the disciple of Christ cannot desire to 
remain in his old ways of sin. He therefore comes out from the 
world and separates himself. This is implied in his obedience to 
the command of the apostle, which forms the next subject for our 
consideration. Repent, and he baptized every one of you, in the name 
of Jesus Christ. To be baptized into the name of any one, is to 
profess friendship and obedience to him : to be baptized in the 
name of Christ is to be admitted into the church of Christ. The 
application of water to the body in baptism signifies the cleansing 
of the sins of the soul by the Spirit and the blood of Christ. We 
are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holv Ghost, to signify our engrafting into Christ, our parta- 
king of the benefits of the new covenant and our engagement to 
be the Lord's. And these commands to repent and be baptized, 
are, as already remarked, binding on every child of Adam, who 
has any wish, or hope to enter heaven. 

Here it may be proper to guard against two mistakes which 
men are very apt to fall into, that repentance is to be exercised 
only once in the course of a man's life, and that the exercises of 
the heart in repentance and conversion are always the same in 
kind, order, and degree, in every person who is brought to God. 
There is a vast variety in the experience of those to whom God 
shows his saving grace, and my object in the preceding state- 



380 REPENTANCE. 

ments, has been more to point out what is essential than to define 
the degree, or order in which they occur. In some the exercises 
of the mind will be much more clear and pungent than in others. 
They may more rapidly result in conversion in some cases, than 
in others ; they may be much more clearly perceived by some, 
and may show their effects in the outward actions, with more or 
less distinctness. For all these varying degrees of intensity, no 
certain or definite rule can be laid down. There can be but one 
regeneration of the soul, but sorrow for sin may be, nay must be, 
often felt. It is indeed commonly felt much more deeply after 
conversion than before, and he who best knows his own heart, or 
most narrowly examines his own life, will find the most abun- 
dant reason to humble himself before God for his offences, and 
shortcomings. As it is well said in the prophecy of Jeremiah, 
Surely after that I was turned, I repented, and after that I ivas in- 
structed, I smote upon my thigh ; Iivas ashamed, yea even confounded, 
because I did bear the reproach of my youth, Jer. xxxi. 19. 

The object that the apostle exhorts us to gain by repentance, 
and baptism, is the remission of our sins. Let it not be suppo- 
sed, that this great blessing is purchased by repentance. Many 
seem to think that a little sorrow for sin is all that is necessary 
to induce God to pardon us ; but the Bible teaches a far different 
doctrine. By the law of Moses there was no remission without the 
shedding of blood ; and there is no pardon of sin, except in virtue 
of the sacrifice of Christ. It is because heliath suffered, the just 
for the unjust, that God can be just, and yet the justifier of him who 
believeth on Jesus, Eom. iii. 26. Kepentance therefore does not 
purchase our pardon. Thousands of rams, ten thousands of rivers 
of oil for sacrifices, your first-born for your transgression, and the fruit 
of your body for the sin of your soul, Mich. vi. 7, would not secure 
for you the favor of God, nor anything save the one offering and 
perfect sacrifice of Christ. But repentance is necessary in its own 
nature, for having so grievously offended, it is right that we should 
be sorry. The returning prodigal is received by his anxious fa- 
ther, not because of his repentance, but because of his father's 
love and compassion ; but this so far from rendering his repent- 
ance unnecessary, only makes it the more needful and proper. 
Shall we sin against so gracious a God as Jehovah — so merciful 
a Saviour as Christ — so holy a Spirit as the Comforter, and yet 
feel no emotions of sorrow, of childlike sorrow, when the love of 



KEPENTASTCE. 



381 



God is confirmed to us, notwithstanding our sins? Perish the 
unworthy thought. 

" Lord, we have long abused thy love, 
Too long indulged our sin, 
Our aching hearts e'en bleed to see 
What rebels we have been." 

Baptism too, on which so many rely, for their pardon and ac- 
ceptance with God, is indeed of the utmost importance, for it is 
commanded by God, but in itself, it is only the outward seal, and 
possesses no virtue to save us. What is the use of the outward 
seal, when the inward grace was wanting ? Or what would you 
value the most curious or costly seal, if it sealed nothing ? Such 
alas, is the baptism of too many. 

So much has already been said, of the instructive command 
of the apostles, to repent and be baptized, that it leaves little space 
or time to enlarge on the cheering promise that was spoken at 
the same time ; but it is the less necessary to speak at length of 
this, for if you could only be induced to obey the command, your 
own experience would teach you more of the sweetness of the 
promise, than men can tell you. What I have farther to say, will 
therefore be very brief. 

II. The promise of Peter to those who should repent and be 
baptized, was, that they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
We shall not greatly err if we say, that next to the gift of the 
Son of God, who gave his own life for us, the Bible contains no 
more precious promise than the one before us. I know not in- 
deed how to make a comparison between the two, for in the 
Christian dispensation, each is equally indispensable. In vain 
had been the death of Christ were the Spirit not given to apply 
and seal to us the benefits purchased by this costly sacrifice. In 
the promise of the Holy Spirit the apostle doubtless had a refer- 
ence to the miraculous powers, and the gift of tongues, which 
were bestowed on the early Christians. But it is a great mistake 
to suppose that these were the chief or most important things in- 
tended by this gift. There were those to whom they were grant- 
ed, who could both work miracles, and speak with tongues, and 
yet perished after all in unbelief. The gift of the Holy Spirit had 
respect chiefly to the communication of the salvation of Christ to 
such as repented and were baptized, and in it are included all the 
blessings of redemption, and eternal salvation, of which the Holy 
Spirit is the author to all them that believe. 



382 



REPENTANCE. 



The Christian dispensation has been called, and not improp- 
erly, the dispensation of the Spirit. He supplies to us the place 
of the absent Saviour, leads his people into all truth, and fits 
them for his service and his presence in glory hereafter. It is his 
work to melt the hardened hearts of men, to foster genuine re- 
pentance for sin, to plant faith, and hope, and love in the Chris- 
tian's breast. It is his work to enable us to bring forth good 
fruit, to the glory of our Master's name, to give us strength for 
the performance of every duty, grace for the endurance of every 
trial, and perseverance unto the end. It is his work to form in 
our hearts the spirit of adoption, whereby we who are naturally 
far off from Grod, and alienated in our minds by wicked works, 
are enabled to come unto him, and with the confidence of chil- 
dren to cry, Abba, Father ! What is there, that the Christian 
does not owe to, or hope from, the gracious Spirit ? Needful for 
the life of our souls, as the elemental air is for the life of our 
bodies, were he to withdraw from the world, it would become 
like those pestilential regions where healthful breezes never blow, 
or like that sea swept by no wind, where the gallant ship and her 
crew, and the birds of the air all died, and the waters produced 
every form of loathsome and hideous reptile. The annals of our 
world, if they were fully read, present no more melancholy spec- 
tacle than that of a soul, abandoned by the Holy Spirit before 
the day of its departure from the body, and concerning which, 
even the beloved and compassionate disciple said, There is a sin 
which is unto death, I do not say that he shall pray for it, 1 John 
v. 16. 

The apostle confirms the promise. just made of the gift of the 
Holy Spirit, by a reference to the covenant made in ancient times 
with Abraham, which had special reference to the times of Christ, 
and the gift of the Spirit. Ye shall receive this gift, says he, be- 
cause the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all them that 
are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. The 
promise here referred to, was the one made long before to Abra- 
ham, for him, his seed, and all the families of the earth, Gen. 
xvii. 7, 8. In virtue of that promise, we, my hearers, who are 
not the literal descendants of faithful Abraham, may be made to 
partake of all the blessings that Abraham, or any of his descend- 
ants, ever enjoyed. If ye be Christ's, says the apostle Paul, then 
are ye Abraham^ seed, and heirs according to the promise, Gral. iii. 29. 

Fellow-sinners, the blessings of this salvation are offered alike 



REPENTANCE. 



383 



to all, and you and I may partake of them, but the word of him 
who was before all things, by whom all things exist, and who 
changeth not, has gone forth, that without holiness, no man shall 
see the Lord, and that except ye repent, ye shall all likeioise perish. 
It is therefore no formal or unmeaning question that I am about 
to put to you, and I pray you in Christ's name, and as you value 
your own never-dying souls, to answer it honestly and faithfully. 
Have you repented of your sins ? Have you come unto Christ 
for their pardon ? Are you bringing forth fruits meet for repent- 
ance ? Having been baptized, as most of you have been in in- 
fancy, are you now, in adult age, walking worthy of that holy 
calling, and the profession then made in your name? With 
these questions, I leave this subject with your own consciences, 
and pray God to grant his blessing and saving grace with it. 

Ningpo, April 12, 1846. 



SEEMON XLIII. 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 

Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your 
sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. — 2 Cor. viii. 9. 

Most of those composing this audience, profess to know some- 
thing experimentally of the grace of Christ. I trust you do know 
it. It is not my purpose now to tell you anything new or strange, 
but rather to lead your minds and my own in a path very familiar 
to you — to ask you to walk in a road you have often walked be- 
fore, and to think of things common and well known. But do 
not misunderstand me, as if I meant to speak of things of little 
use or importance. They are common, but not trite — familiar, 
but not to be despised — as needful as the air, and water, and daily 
bread, which sustain our bodies — like the sun, that day by day 
shines in the heavens above us — like the heavens above, that 
daily overshadow, and the earth beneath, that daily supports us 
— common as all these, but infinitely more glorious and beautiful 
and grand than they. It is something that ye know in your own 
experience, something that the humblest Christian, the meanest 
believer knows, and can discourse of with more true learning 
than all the sages and philosophers of antiquity ; and yet some- 
thing that the profoundest minds and largest capacities cannot 
grasp, yea, which glorified spirits and angels excelling in power 
cannot comprehend ; yea, something that God only knows, for 
no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, Matt. xi. 27. And yet ye 
know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, and ye 
shall be with him forever. Ye are in him now if ye know him 
at all, and ye shall be with him forever, if ye know him now, for 
this -is eternal life, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom 
he has sent, John xvii. 3. Oh Christian ! many prophets, and 
righteous men, and kings have desired to see the things ye see, and have 
not seen them, and to hear the things ye hear, and have not heard them. 
Blessed therefore are your eyes, Luke x. 23, 24. 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



385 



Ye know him, and yet how little a portion of him is known, 
and the thunder of his power, and the exceeding riches of his 
grace, and the depth of his love, who can comprehend ? It was 
a beautiful remark of Newton, after all the discoveries by which 
he enlightened and astonished the world, " I seem to myself to 
have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting 
myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble, or a prettier 
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undis- 
covered before me ;" but much more truly may the Christian say 
this of Christ. Oldest and most experienced Christian ! who hast 
long studied the character, and experienced the grace, and felt the 
love of Christ, what do you know of him ? You have been for a 
year, or five years, or perhaps twenty years, like a man standing 
on the shores of the ocean. You have seen it in calmness and 
beauty reposing, either as the morning sun shone over it, or seas 
of ether and liquid gold seemed blended together at sunset. You 
have seen it when whitened with foam and lashed by the winds, 
when clouds and darkness hung over it. You have picked up a 
shell here, and tried to sound its depths there. You have ven- 
tured out a little on its bosom, and come back overwhelmed with 
the sense of its greatness. Thus you have ever been learning and 
seeing more of it, and how much do you know of it now ? Have 
you comprehended it all ? Hast thou entered into the springs of the 
sea, or hast thou lualked in the search of the depth f Job xxxviii. 16. 
How then can ye comprehend him whom the sea willingly owned 
for its master, and to whom it will one day give up its dead ? 
And yet ye know him, and if ye know him aright, ye know the 
truth of those words of Flavel — " Christ is that ocean in which 
all true delights and pleasures meet, a sea of sweetness, without 
one drop of gall." Suffer me then to speak to you of him. My 
words will fall far short of the sublimity of the subject, but let 
your prayers ascend to God, that he would teach you, and espe- 
cially, that according to the promise of him of whom we speak, 
the Holy Spirit may come and take of the things of Christ and 
show them unto you. 

Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ; that though he was 
rich, yet for your sokes he became poor. 

He ivas rich. There is no comparative or superlative here. 
Superlative expressions would be worse than useless, for they 
would imply a comparison with something else, where all com- 
parison is impossible. He was rich. What is meant by riches ? 

25 



386 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



Ask the beggar what it is to be rich, and he will say that you are 
rich. If I ask you, you will probably point to some of your 
friends who possess more of this world's goods than yourselves. 
If I ask them, they will point to some who stand higher than 
themselves on the dizzy ladder of riches and greatness, or perhaps 
to Solomon the king of Israel, who exceeded all the kings of the earth 
for riches and for wisdom, 1 Kings x. 23. But behold, a greater than 
/Solomon is here, Luke xi. 31. Talk of riches! Why all the 
wealth of the world could not make Christ rich. What canst 
thou give unto him ? The cattle upon a thousand hills are his, and 
his are all the wild beasts of the field, yea, the world and the fulness 
thereof, Ps. 1. 10-12. Why talk of this little world? If all the 
grains of sand in this world, and drops of water in the ocean were 
counted out one by one, the Lord Jesus Christ can point to worlds 
more numerous than all those grains of sand and drops of water, 
and calling the mall by name, Ps. cxlvii. 4, could say, " All these are 
mine — their varied treasures are my treasures — their myriads of 
happy inhabitants are my subjects, and my laws they obey." Is 
he not heir of all things? Is he not head over all things to the 
church ? 

But why talk of these material treasures, of riches such as 
these, that can be weighed in the balance, or measured by the 
rule ? He had other riches and greater treasures than these ; and 
when the disciples brought him food, could say, I have meat to eat, 
that ye know not of All things that the Father hath are his, John 
xvi. 15 ; for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, 
Col. ii. 9. He ivas in the form of God, and thought it no robbery to 
be equal with God, Phil. ii. 6. High is his throne — the riches of 
eternity, of unending time, and unbounded space — yea, the ful- 
ness of the Godhead is his. The prayers of contrite hearts are 
his — the worship of heaven's adoring hosts, and the love of God 
in which, like some vast ocean, all lesser and meaner objects are 
swallowed up and lost, all this is his. Eiches ! How poor and 
mean are all worldly treasures compared with his ! You have 
heard of fairy tales, and Arabian Nights, which tell of palaces of 
gold, lighted with gems, and paved with pearls and precious 
stones ; and of wonderful beings who in an instant could rear 
such structures as mortals could not complete in ages. Why, bre- 
thren, all these wonderful tales are very nonsense and folly com- 
pared with even the material treasures Christ possesses, and you 
cannot but feel that the comparison of his better treasures, the 



THE GEACE OF CHRIST. 



387 



riches of his grace, with, such things as these would degrade them. 
Well therefore does the apostle say, He was rich. If you ever 
reach that happy world, where his presence renders the light of 
the sun needless, you will know something of his riches, far more 
than his servants here can tell you, for he will give you liberally, 
and without upbraiding, giving doth not impoverish him. 

How few that are rich will willingly become poor. How few 
that have once tasted the sweets of power are willing to give 
them up. How hard it is after indulging in the pleasures and de- 
lights of the beautiful palace to descend into the low valley of hu- 
miliation, and walk through the valley of the shadow of death ! 
Even for a clear friend it is a great sacrifice to descend to a low 
station, and exchange a competence or abundance for poverty and 
want. But our Lord Jesus Christ, the possessor of all glory, and the 
inheritor of all riches, became poor. You ask, how is this possible ? I 
do not know ; but we read in his word, how he stripped himself of 
all his glory — concealed the robes of his divinity in a garment of 
our inferior clay — abandoned the worship of angels for the society 
of sinners ; and more than all this, was in measure, estranged and 
separated from the light of his Father's countenance. 

He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a 
servant, and was formed in fashion as a man, Phil. ii. 7. Brethren, 
you will never know how great this condescension was. You 
have some conception of the weakness and littleness of your own 
bodies, and the feebleness of your own minds, but you have no 
conception of the greatness and glory of that throne from which 
he descended, that he might clothe" himself in flesh and blood. 
How can you have ? The apostle, in vision, saw a great white 
throne, and from the face of him that sat upon it the earth and 
the heavens fled away ; but behold, that face is now veiled, and 
he who sat upon that throne is walking on the earth, to all out- 
ward appearance a man compassed with infirmities as others. 
Fellow-Christians, look upon that meek face and upturned eye, 
and say, What seest thou there ? Alas ! He groweth up as a ten- 
der plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form or come- 
liness, and when ive see him there is no beauty that we should desire 
him, Is. liii. 2. Can this be he? Is this the Lord of life and 
glory? Oh yes. Men saw it not. He came into his own domin- 
ions, and his own people received him not, but inanimate nature, 
the irrational creation, and invisible spirits knew him well. The 
winds and waves obeyed his voice — the sea grew solid beneath 



388 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



his feet. The tree shed its green glories at his word — the fish 
yielded up its life at his command — the bread multiplied a thou- 
sand-fold when he spake ; diseases were subject to him — the dead 
heard his voice and lived. Angels hovered around to minister 
to him, and devils fled in terror at his presence. When he died 
the earth was shaken, the rocks rent, and the noon-day sun veiled 
his face. Creation was anxious to wait upon him. The creature 
had long been subject to bondage, not willingly, and was groan- 
ing for its redemption from the woes our sinful race had inflicted 
upon it ; and now when he came, as if expecting immediate de- 
liverance, all nature was upon the alert to receive his commands, 
and obey. But not yet. He came not then to be rich, to be 
honored, to be ministered unto ; but to minister, and to give up his 
life a ransom for many. Gently putting by the eager offers of 
his creatures, and passing by every form of honor or ease the 
world contained, he descended to the form and station of a ser- 
vant, and the meanest of his creatures were better off than he. 
Foxes had holes, and the birds of the air had nests, bu t the Son of man 
had not where to lay his head, Matt. viii. 20. Sometimes women 
ministered unto him ; but often he was hungry, often he was 
thirsty, and often he was weary and faint. 

Was not all this bodily want and suffering, joined to the ab- 
sence of his heavenly glory , enough ? Must he descend lower 
and become poorer still ? Yes, he came to raise the meanest of 
our race to the throne of glory on high, and to do it he must 
descend below them all. If there was one thing that Christ 
wished more than another, it was the love and affection of his 
creatures — that his friends and disciples should love him as he 
loved them, and love one another as he commanded. His affec- 
tionate heart yearned for the sympathy and solace of those he 
loved. Did he obtain this ? Eead the history of his life, the 
jealousies of his chosen followers, their envy of one another, their 
contests for the pre-eminence, their betrayal, denial, desertion. 
Yea, fellow-Christian, look into your own heart and read there 
what he experienced from others. Follow him to the cross, 
where in the depth of his poverty and sufferings from men, he 
feels himself forsaken of his Grod, and say if there was not mean- 
ing in the poet's words, of which the poet himself was uncon- 
scious when he wrote — 



" Poor is the friendless owner of a world." 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



389 



A man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs, these were his pos- 
sessions, these his friends while in the world. It were long to go 
over the whole story of all that Christ endured, as he became 
obedient unto death — the death of the cross. Follow him to his 
grave. Sit down with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, over 
against his sepulchre. It is a sepulchre given him by charity ; 
the sun has gone down, and besides these few women and his 
fainting disciples, who thinks of, or cares for him ? The inscrip- 
tion on his tomb might have been — Beneath this stone repose the 
remains of him who was in the form of God, and thought it no rob- 
bery to be equal with God. Yet he made himself of no reputation, and 
took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of 
men: and being formed in fashion as a man, he humbled himself 
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, Phil. ii. 
6-8. 

Now remember the words of the apostle. Scarcely for a 
righteous man will one die. Peradventure, for a good man, some 
woidd even dare to die, Eom. v. 7, and ask yourselves, For whom 
did Christ suffer all this ? For himself, he needed not to suffer, 
or to toil. What could the occupant of that glorious throne, the 
possessor of those untold riches, expect to gain by enduring all 
this poverty and sorrow ? It was not simply that he wished to 
increase the number of his subjects, for that he could have done 
without this labor. God is able out of stones to raise up seed 
unto Abraham. No, my brethren, it was for your sakes. Ye 
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for 
your sakes he became poor. 

And who are you, that for your sakes Christ should endure all 
this? One would naturally suppose, on hearing of all that 
Christ suffered for others, that they must needs be some very 
wonderful and deserving beings for whom he was willing to en- 
dure so much. One would almost expect some magnificent sun, 
or brightly beaming star to burst forth, as that for which Christ 
died ; but beheld a worm of the dust, a perishing mortal, a race 
of sinful men ! Christian, what have you to be proud of, or that 
could merit so much from your Saviour ? It is true that Adam 
and Eve in the garden of Eden, were very lovely and glorious 
creatures, but all their loveliness came from Him, being indeed, 
but a faint reflection of his own, for in the image of Grod they 
were made, and every attribute of beauty they possessed, found 
its type, or rather its full substance in Him. But you can lay 



390 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



claim to no such excellence as they. They speedily fell from 
their primeval state of innocence and glory, and their children 
were begotten, not after the image of God, but in the likeness 
and image of their fallen progenitor, Gen. v. 3. Ye are the seed 
of strangers f children of rebels ; degenerate plants of a strange vine, 
and by nature, children of wrath, even as others. Coming into the 
world with natures prone to sin, and speaking lies as soon as you 
were born, you have gone astray each one in his own way. You 
are fed by his bounty, and supported by his daily providence, and 
yet you daily forget him, and take the credit of all you possess 
to yourselves. You are beautified and enriched by his gifts, and 
yet you deny him due praise for them, or service with them. 
You slight his calls, you grieve his love, you disbelieve his word, 
you dishonor his name, and you love and trust in his enemies. 
Am I saying too much, or charging yon too harshly ? I would 
not willingly bring a single charge against you which } T our own 
consciences will not acknowledge to be true, and none for which 
my own heart does not often accuse myself. 

Professing a desire to serve him, and to be his, and yet break- 
ing all your vows and professions, and in j T our most solemn ser- 
vices, and even when on your knees alone with him, yielding 
your hearts and affections to his great enemy, and suffering 
your eyes to wander with those of the fool to the end of the 
earth, you are so full of sin, that you have never yet realized the 
desperate wickedness of your own hearts, though you know so 
much of it, that } t ou scarce dare own it to yourselves, and would 
not dare expose it all to } 7 our nearest friend. At the very best 
you are but unprofitable servants, and are utterly unable to 
requite your Saviour for the least of all his mercies. All this is 
true of you, even since you have experienced his grace ; but how 
much more fearfully was it true of you, when the purpose to save 
you was formed in the Saviour's heart, and when his grace was 
made known for your salvation. You then were indeed poor 
and miserable, and blind and naked — yea, so blind and so sense- 
less, that in your folly you not only thought, but said, We are 
rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing, Eev. iii. 17. 
The pit of destruction was yawning to receive you, and with 
hasty steps you were approaching the brink. One step more and 
you might have been lost forever. How terrible the lot of those 
who dwell with devouring fire — with everlasting burnings ! Yet 
that was what you and I deserved, and which, had we been left 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



391 



to our own efforts to deliver us, we should surely have experienced 
because, from the wrath of God a great ransom could not deliver 
us, neither riches nor gold, nor all the forces of strength, Job 
xxx vi. 18, 19. 

Thanks be unto God ! He hath laid help for us on one 
mighty to save — for ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
how, that though he was rich, for your sakes he became poor, 
that }^e through his poverty might be rich. Yes, for your sakes, 
Christ well knew beforehand, all your poverty, and misery, and 
worthlessness, as well as the sufferings he must undergo if he 
would deliver you, but he did not therefore shrink from the task. 
Divine compassion filled his heart. Almighty power nerved his 
hand, nor did he withdraw that hand until that heart had ceased 
to beat, and salvation was procured. And what a salvation it 
was ! He was not satisfied simply to deliver you from impend- 
ing evil. He was not satisfied even to restore you to the state 
of Adam before he fell. He was satisfied with nothing; less than 
making you rich. What shall I say here? How is it possible 
to describe the things that are in store for them that love God ? 
However poor and miserable and despised they may now be, his 
word assures to every humble believer such abundant supplies 
of every good thing, that language fails ere the full sum is told. 
Among these good things are enumerated mansions in heaven, 
white raiment, crowns of gold, crowns of glory that fade not 
away. The tree of life with its refreshing fruit and healing 
leaves. An exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The true 
riches, the love and favor of God, the societ}^ of angels and of 
the spirits of just men made perfect ; fulness of joy and pleasures 
for evermore, perfect sanctification, and freedom from all sin and 
annovance. Eest, no more sickness and sorrow, and the presence 
of Christ forever. Whatever it be that you most desire, you shall 
have it, whatever it be that most annoys and grieves you now, shall 
be taken away, and lest it should be thought that perhaps some 
good thing might be withheld, the apostle says, Whether Paid, or 
Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life or death, or things present,- 
or things to come ; all are yours, 1 Cor. iii. 22. Is not this enough? 
Do you wish for more ? Then hear the apostle John, Beloved, 
now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall 
he, hut we know that when he shall appear, we shall he like him, for 
we shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. Oh Lord, it is enough ! 
The full heart can desire no more. 



392 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



How precious are these promises ! and how much more so, 
when you reflect how they are given to you, by the grace of him 
who, though he was rich, became poor, that ye, through his 
poverty, might become rich. Brethren, do ye indeed know that 
grace f 

It is through his poverty, that ye thus become rich. It was no 
empty or ostentatious display of compassion, or contempt for suf- 
ferings, that led Christ to endure so much. It was from no inten- 
tion of merely showing how affliction should be borne, that he 
bore all he did. Heavy as were the strokes, deep as were the 
sorrows of our Lord, they were all necessary. God's justice 
demanded satisfaction. His holy and unalterable law cried aloud 
for revenge ; had Christ not borne the punishment, you and I 
must have bowed our own necks to the stroke, and our endless 
poverty and misery would have shown how fearful a thing it is 
to fall into the hands of the living God. It is through the 
poverty of Christ, that we are spared. Our sins were imputed 
unto him, our chastisement was laid upon him, and with his 
stripes we are healed. His righteousness and merits are imputed 
unto us ; by faith we become united unto him, and are made par- 
takers of justification, adoption, and sanctincation, and the bene- 
fits which in this life, and the life to come, do accompany and 
flow from them. 

Now, fellow-Christian, after this brief and most imperfect 
representation of the meaning of this text, let me ask you, How 
much owest thou unto my Lord? Luke xvi. 5. Do not make the 
sum of your indebtedness more than it really is. Think over it, 
calmly and deliberately. What have you received from him? 
With what have you repaid him ? How stands your account ? 
Perhaps it is something like this : — 

So many years of life and health. 

So much of worldly goods. 

So much education and light. 

So many kind relatives and friends. 

Such a station in society. 

So many Sabbaths and sermons. 

So many calls of the gospel, and strivings of the Spirit. 
So many supplies of grace in times of need. 
So many answers to prayers. 

So many earnests and foretastes of heaven, and you know 
how many other things besides. 



THE GRACE OF CHRIST. 



393 



On the other hand, what have you to show for yourself? 

So many professions of love and service. 

So much faithfulness and zeal. 

So many opportunities of doing good improved. 

So much good done to Christ's people. 

So many souls saved — and shall I ask, How many broken 
vows, forgotten promises, misspent Sabbaths, and neglected oppor- 
tunities ? 

Oh ! let the grace of Christ fill your heart with wonder and 
gratitude, while your own deficiencies humble you in the dust. 
But remember, in your deepest sorrow and humiliation, to bear 
in mind that the grace of Christ is abundantly able, and that he 
is abundantly willing to save you, notwithstanding all your sins, 
and imperfections, and unworthiness, and will do it, too ; and 
therefore, while you take the shame to yourselves, give all glory, 
and honor, and praise unto him. 

If your own defects and unworthiness did not teach you 
humility, surely the example of Christ should do it. Learn from 
him not to desire worldly honor or applause, .but to follow the 
path of duty, lead where it may. Seek not great things for your- 
selves, remembering that the brightest example of the truth of 
that saying, before honor is humility, is found in the life of Christ, 
who, after his deep sorrow and humiliation, was highly exalted, 
and had given to him a name above every other name • that at the 
name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess him 
Lord, Phil. ii. 9—11. Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek 
them not, Jer. xlv. 5, but let this mind be in you which was also in 
Christ Jesus, Phil. ii. 5. 

# 

Finally. Learn, hence, to consecrate yourselves entirely to him. 
I speak not merely of giving your worldly substance to him, nor 
even of outward diligence in his service in the spheres in which 
your lot is cast. God loveth a cheerful giver, and he looketh 
at the heart far more than at external services. Let your piety 
be of that deep, earnest, grateful kind, that delights in communion 
with God, and which shows itself in intercourse with men, with- 
out an effort. Out of the abundance of the heart, let your mouth 
speak. Out of the fulness of your love, let your lives praise him. 
If ye love him, keep his commandments. 

Ningpo, June 14, 1846. 



* 



SEKMON XLIV. 

DEPARTING FROM GOD. 

I will arise and go unto my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned 
against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son : 
make me as one of thy hired servants. — Luke xv. 18, 19. 

In nothing is more judgment necessary, than the interpreta- 
tion of the parables of Christ. They are not so clear and simple 
as many seem to suppose. They contain the broadest principles 
and deepest truths of the kingdom of God. Hence was fulfilled 
in him what was foretold by the prophet, I to-ill open my mouth in 
parables, I will utter things which have been kept secret from the founda- 
tion of the toorld, Ps. lxxviii. 2, Matt. xiii. 35. In general there is some 
one great truth intended to be taught in each parable, while all the 
circumstances of the narrative are designed to illustrate this truth, 
and place it in its proper light. It is, so to speak, the body of the 
parable, while the circumstances of the narrative are the drapery 
which surrounds it. The object of the expositor therefore, while 
paying all due attention to the narrative, should be not to insist 
too much on the merely accessory and minor details, but to dwell 
chiefly on tne main truth inculcated. This made plain, every- 
thing else will naturally assume its proper position, just as when 
the body stands erect, the garments fall about it in easy and grace- 
ful folds, and just proportion, of themselves. 

In the parable of the prodigal son, so long the admiration of 
the church, the theme of painters, and the grateful source of con- 
solation to the weeping penitent, the chief doctrine taught seems 
to be, the tender compassion and love of God for the returning peni- 
tent. The particular circumstances by which that love and com- 
passion are shown, are the actions of a father with an erring son. 
The comparison is a beautiful and striking one, especially when 
we recollect the words of the Psalmist, Like as a father pitieth hu 
children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him, Ps. ciii. 13.* 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



395 



The truths taught therefore are as simple as they are striking 
and important. They are, 

1. The folly and sin of departing from God, and the way to 
return. 

2. The love and compassion of God to the returning peni- 
tent. 

3. The displeasure and disdain of the worldly moralist when 
the vicious are reclaimed. 

Although in this parable, the second of these is doubtless the 
main truth taught, yet the particular verses selected for the text, 
brings the first chiefly to mind, and to that I invite your attention 
now. At another time I may continue the subject, and treat of 
the second and the third in order. 

The subject therefore of this discourse is, The folly, sin and 
m isery of departing from God, and the way to return to him. 

The younger son in the parable, as described by our Saviour 
may be considered as the type of two classes of persons, for 
though their characters are widely different, yet they have many 
circumstances in common, and the description of our Lord seemed 
to have been designed for each. These two classes are, first, The 
impenitent and unconverted sinners who have never known the 
grace of God, second, True believers who backslide. As those 
who form the second class were once included in the first, I shall 
speak of each in their order. 

1. In regard to all impenitent men, it is strictly true that they 
are like the younger son in the parable. It is related of him, that 
after receiving from his father a certain portion of his substance, 
he went from him into a far country, where, removed from the 
restraints of parental authority, he gave himself up to all manner 
of dissipation and excess. So it is with the men of the world. 
Who is there that receives not good at the hand of God ? Who 
is not dependent on him for every blessing? Endowed by him 
with a body fearfully and wonderfully made, blessed by him with 
health and strength both bodily and mental, and watched over 
by him from the cradle to the grave, what good thing is there 
that you do not receive from him ? It is he who teacheth man knowl- 
edge, Ps. xciv. 10. It is he who giveth us rain from heaven and fruitful 
seasons, Acts xiv. 17. It is he who raises up friends and helpers. 
It is he who giveth the power to get wealth, Deut. viii. 18. It is he 
who redeemeth thy life from destruction ; who crowneth thee with lov- 
ing-kindness and tender mercies. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good 



396 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's, Ps. ciii. 4, 5. Un- 
der these circumstances how natural does gratitude and a hearty 
consecration to his service seem, and how appropriately may 
every man say with David, All things come of thee, and of thine own 
have we given thee ; it is all thine own, 1 Chron. xxix. 14, 16. 

But is it so ? Do we anywhere witness this consecration to 
God among men of the world ? Alas ! no. Men do not like to 
retain God in their knowledge. They say, Depart from us, for 
we desire not the knowledge of thy ways, Job xxi. 14. They seek to 
forget him, to keep him out of their hearts and affections, nay, 
even to flee from him. The prodigal's going into a far country, 
is but a type of the distance which natural men seek to place be- 
tween God and themselves. This distance and strangeness from 
God is not attained by leaving a Christian land, and forsaking 
Christian people and Christian ordinances. That would be in vain. 
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit f or whither shall I flee from thy 
presence? Ps. cxxxix. 7. Heaven and hell are alike sensible to 
the presence of God. The wings of the morning could not carry 
you from beyond his presence. The darkness of the night can- 
not hide you from his eyes. But a man may be very far from 
God when in the midst of Christians and Christian privileges, and 
when surrounded by the blaze of his glory he may shut his eyes 
to it as a blind man's eyes are shut to the sun. Fellow-Chris- 
tians, you know how possible this is, for you once were in this 
state. Ye know the heart of a stranger, for ye were strangers in 
Egypt, Exod. xxiii. 9. Let the recollection of it lead you to pity 
and pray for those who feel it not in themselves. How many 
such there are ! It is sin which separates them from God. Your 
iniquities have separated between me and your souls, Is. lix. 2. 

When it is said that by sin men are separated from God, it is 
not necessarily meant that they are openly and grossly wicked. 
It is a great mistake to think that God notices chiefly the outward 
sins that human laws punish, or human good -breeding abhors. 
God's standard by which he judges and will punish sin, is very 
different from that of men of the world. Some sins are doubtless 
more heinous in the sight of God than others, and some vices 
more odious than others. But it is opportunity and light that 
constitutes the aggravation of most sins, and doubtless multitudes 
whose outward life is fair, are more sinful and vile in God's 
sight, than the despised outcast, on whom the formalist and self- 
righteous look with unmitigated contempt. The proud Pharisee 



DEPARTING FEOM GOD. 



397 



who stood up in the temple, was much farther from God than the 
publican who stood afar off, enduring his scorn, and was probably 
far more criminal. 

Men who are thus destitute of the true knowledge of God and 
his righteousness are far from him, and there is no saying where 
their course will end. They go farther and farther astray, and 
even more incline downwards. They have cast his bands away 
from them, and were he pleased to withdraw the restraints which 
his providence places around them, they would run into every 
excess of riot. Now their object in all this is not so much to 
despise and provoke God, as it is to seek after happiness. This 
is that painted toy which allures all men to wander in every 
crooked path, and sport on the brink of destruction, — but true 
happiness is never found away from God, and all the searches of 
the worldly and impenitent man but end in deeper disappoint- 
ment. The deeper he goes in sin, and the further from God, the 
deeper he sinks in misery. It may be he is for a while uncon- 
scious of his misery, but this only makes it the more certain and 
intolerable in the end, for his unconsciousness deprives him of the 
possibility of escaping and obtaining true happiness. 

If God has any purposes of mercy to such persons he does not 
leave them to themselves forever, but in some way convinces 
them of the impossibility of obtaining true happiness in the way 
they seek it. They may forget him, but he does not forget them, 
and one of the means by which he brings them to himself, is by 
sending afflictions upon them, which show them the vanity of 
their pursuits. He blasts their hopes of happiness in the world, 
that they may seek it in himself. A famine happened in the 
land of the prodigal's sojourning, he began to be in want, and 
was finally reduced to abject misery and distress, and in his sor- 
row he remembered the home of his youth, which he had so need- 
lessly forsaken. It is thus also with the convinced sinner. What 
fruit has he now in the things he has so long sought after ? Far 
from satisfying him, he is more ashamed of them. The arrows 
of God are in his heart, he finds no comfort in what he once loved, 
and when he looks forward he has only a certain fearful prospect 
of judgment before him. He looked around for help, but there 
is none in himself, none in his former friends, and none in the 
world. Thus by degrees awakening, he at last comes to himself 
and sees the vanity of the world. Then he thinks of God and of 
coming to him, — but at first how unwillingly, he would go any- 



398 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



where else if he could. But nowhere else can he go. Therefore 
he thinks, and recalls to mind how much goodness he has already 
experienced, and how happy are those who enjoy God's favor. 
He resolves to return to God, but how can he come to him whose 
goodness he has so abused? Thus reflecting he sees his own 
ingratitude and ill-desert, and confesses his unworthiness, na}^ 
more, his just condemnation. Thoroughly humbled by the sense 
of his own misery and sin, he at last resolves to cast himself on 
the free goodness of God, and to accept thankfully whatever he 
may see fit to give. It is seldom that any person ever receives 
true peace of mind, until brought to this unreserved casting of his 
whole soul on the sovereign mercy and grace of God. With a 
trembling heart and faltering step, the now deeply humbled peni- 
tent approaches that God he has so long despised and rejected. 
Do you ask how he is received? Fellow-Christian, you know 
the door was thrown wide open, you were kindly received, rich 
gifts were showered upon you, and there was joy in the church on 
earth, and joy among the angels in heaven. This you know by 
your own experience, and you will join me in testifying to every 
inquiring sinner, if there be any such in this house, that if you 
thus come you shall find the same welcome. 

How rich are the blessings laid up in God's house for his peo- 
ple — a covenant is made with them and they become the children 
of God, while he pledges himself for their protection and defence. 
In consequence of that covenant every rich blessing is given 
them — strength to resist temptations and enemies, grace in time 
of need, foretastes of heaven, right judgments, true laws, good 
statutes and commandments, rich promises for every state, and 
some that are seen only when seen through tears — the providence 
of God, like the pillar of fire, and the cloud that led Israel through 
the wilderness — the good Spirit of God to instruct and to sanctify, 
and the goodly fellowship of the faithful. All these and many 
more are among the gifts bestowed upon the returning prodigal, 
and well may he exclaim, The lines have fallen to me in pleasant 
places; I have a goodly heritage, Ps. xvi. 6. These joys thus 
enumerated are all given him for present possession. Eye hath 
not seen, ear hath not heard, heart hath not conceived what God hath 
laid up for them that love him. Having then such hopes, my 
dearly beloved brethren, how earnestly should you persevere, 
and go forward till the day of final redemption. 

2, Oan it be possible that one enjoying any or all of the 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



399 



blessings just enumerated, could so far forget them, as to seek 
happiness elsewhere than in the service of God ? Can it be pos- 
sible that those who have been received back into the paternal 
home, should again go forth to wander? Fellow-Christian, what 
say you? Alas! I read in your countenances the answer my 
own heart has already suggested. Yes ! it is too possible. Even 
in the church and among the true children of God there are many 
who turn prodigal again. Wot satisfied with former danger, they 
are like the soldier who rushes to the battle again, or like the 
shipwrecked sailor, who once more tempts the waves ; or perhaps 
I should use the comparison of the bird who rushes into the net, 
or the dog who returns to his own vomit, and the sow that was 
washed to her wallowing in the mire. I propose, therefore, now 
to consider the case of the professed Christian who departs from 
God, as the prodigal son departs from his father. My remarks 
shall be directed to those who consider themselves, and in -the 
judgment of charity may justly do so, as real Christians. Some 
might at first ask, Can such persons wander again ? Is it possi- 
ble that one who has been rescued from the pit, delivered from 
the wild beast, saved from the famine or the flame, should again 
rush to the same pit, put himself in the lion's mouth, go feed upon 
the husks the swine do eat, or expose himself again to the flames 
of wrath? The young convert, in the ardor of his first love, says 
no ! The Christian, when drinking in the fulness of divine love, 
and grace for grace, says no, and angels in heaven would say no 
too. Fellow-Christian, what say you? The fact of such wander- 
ing does at first seem well-nigh impossible. Look at the young 
convert, such as you all once were. After a season of painful 
conviction of sin, and fear of eternal death and the pains of hell, 
and a deep sense of his own utter helplessness, he is at length, by 
God's grace, delivered. His feet are taken out of the mire, his 
soul is delivered from the lion's jaws, and a new song, even praise 
to our God, is put in his mouth. Eeflect, my hearers, on that 
happy time, on the experience of the grace and love of Christ, 
and the sweet influences of the Spirit. How delightful then was 
prayer ! how glorious did the Scriptures seem ! how lovely the 
fellowship of the saints ! how desirable the service of God ! But 
alas, when a few short months have passed away, who is there 
that will not mournfully say, Oh that it were with me os in months 
that are past — when the candle of the Lord shone upon my head, and 
when by his light I walked through darkness, Job xxix. 2, 3. The 



400 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



melancholy and humiliating truth cannot be concealed, you have 
lost your first zeal, you have left your first love, you have grown 
weary and fainted in your course, you have grieved the Spirit 
and he is gone, you have wounded the Saviour, and he hides his 
face from you, you have dishonored God, and he causes you to 
walk in darkness. Where is the Christian who has never back- 
slidden ? 

I do not say it must be thus. I would not say to a young 
convert, " You will certainly backslide." It need not be so. You 
need not backslide. The same grace that called and regenerated 
you, is equally able to keep you from falling, — and it is your own 
fault, and yours alone, if you do fall. Let me remark here, that 
all loss of the first ardor and freshness of a convert's feelings is 
not backsliding. It is not in human nature to maintain always 
the liveliness and freshness that most feel when they first experi- 
ence that Grod is gracious. The great point in Christian experi- 
ence is to feel so constantly one's own sinfulness, and consequent 
helplessness and ill-desert, as to abide by the cross evermore. As 
long as you feel Christ precious, and perceive his suitableness to 
your case, and by consequence steadily persevere in his service, 
so long you are not a backslider. 

The young Christian is very ignorant of the sinfulness, and 
especially of the pride of his own heart. I well remember the 
counsel of a venerated parent, when I was young in the Chris- 
tian life, " Gruard against spiritual pride," and how, in my inex- 
perience and ignorance, I thought it a needless caution, vainly 
confiding that there was no pride in my heart to guard against. 
Little sensible of his sinfulness, and fondly hoping that the sin 
that dwelleth in him is well nigh dead, the young convert too 
often keeps but a negligent guard. But why do I say the young 
convert? Show me the experienced Christian who is so fully 
sensible of his own sinfulness as never to be off his guard, or to 
flatter himself with the belief that it is well with him. When 
Satan sees the Christian in this state, his hellish malice is imme- 
diately on the alert, but with infernal wisdom (oh! brethren, 
guard against that wisdom, it is far deeper than your own, be 
not ignorant of his devices), he fosters the delusion by abstaining 
for a while from open assaults. Friends smile upon you, and 
praise you, and flatter you, and you think there is neither adver- 
sary nor evil occurrent. The consequence of all this is, that 
soon the Christian thinks a little less diligence is sufficient, that 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



401 



lie may fast and pray less, be less strict in self-examination, and 
less fervent and frequent in prayer. Conscience is already some- 
what seared before he comes to this stage, and its faint voice is 
silenced. These are commonly among the first steps in religious 
declension. Now, in all this there is no intention to depart from 
God. Nothing is further from the Christian's thoughts. Nay, I 
have often observed, that, when these incipient steps in the down- 
ward course had been already taken, the Christian was most apt 
to think himself established and settled. He looks on himself with 
some satisfaction and self-complacency. Fellow-Christian ! guard 
against all such self-complacent imaginations, as you would 
against a serpent. It is one of the most dangerous signs, when 
you thus begin to think of yourself, and to suffer self-esteem in 
your heart. But it usually comes so imperceptibly, that you see 
it not. If Satan can only close or blind your eyes, he is sure of 
his victim. Oh ! guard against the first little sin. It is as when 
one letteth out water ; you know not what a breach may soon be 
made. 

3. When the Christian once begins to backslide, there is no 
saying how far he may go. Your safety is only in the cross. It 
is only when sensible of your sinfulness and need of pardon, that 
you are secure. It is only when you are weak in your own esti- 
mation, that you are really strong, — only when you are empty of 
yourself, that you are full of Christ. The heart is too little a 
thing to hold your goodness and Christ's righteousness too. Just 
so soon, therefore, as you lose sight of the cross, and think less 
of the blood of sprinkling, which can cleanse your soul, just so 
soon are you standing in a slippery place. Glory in anything 
but in the cross, and you will surely be put to shame. How far 
you may fall, God in his wisdom and mercy only knows, but I 
may tell you some of the steps you will probably take. 

By degrees you lose your relish for secret prayer. Your 
prayers become short, pointless, unfervent, and in great measure 
selfish, that is, you do not pray for anybody but yourself, and 
perhaps your own family. You have little sense of God's pres- 
ence in devotion. Your prayers become a mere chattering noise, 
for your mind is full of wandering thoughts. Words of prayer 
are on your tongue, but your heart is full of vanity. Oh ! how 
hateful this is in the sight of him who will be worshipped in 
spirit and in truth. 

Your scriptural reading and meditation become hurried and 

26 



402 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



unprofitable. A veil is over jour eyes in the reading of the law. 
Where you once saw beauties, you now see none. You lose 
your relish for many Scriptures you once delighted in. You 
even wonder what the Psalmist means, when he speaks so raptu- 
rously of his joy in the Scriptures. His experience does not 
agree with your present feelings. You now see but little glory 
in God — but little beauty in Christ — feel but few emotions of the 
Spirit — and when it comes to this point, then verily you are very 
far from God. You have now taken your journey into a fai 
country. It is away from the sun. It is a very cold, dark land, 
and you are well nigh dead. 

You now lose your relish for social Christian worship and 
fellowship. You come to the house of God as the people come, 
and sit as the people sit, and with your mouth you show much 
love ; but where is your heart ? Behold, it goeth after vanity. 
You come to the Lord's table, and even there your affections are 
but slightly aroused, for you can sit there and think of other 
things. Oh ! how often does the listless countenance, or the 
half-suppressed yawn, testify to the wish that the service were 
over. When will the Sabbath be gone f Amos viii. 5. I do not 
say that you actually give utterance to such a wish, but He who 
searches the heart, too often sees a state of mind in the backslid- 
ing Christian that is but little removed from it. The feeling is 
there, and God sees it. 

You have lost the sense of intimate union with Christ. How 
natural that you feel less the bonds of Christian love and affection. 
You cease to talk of Christ, or to speak to a fellow-Christian as to 
a fellow-heir of the same inheritance. You have already ceased 
to pray earnestly and expect blessings for them, for your few 
prayers are in great measure selfish, and end with yourself. You 
meet them, and talk of the weather, and the crops, of the news, 
and your studies, it may be of what you are doing for Christ, but 
how seldom of Christ, and what he is doing in and for you. And 
if you do talk of him, do you not find that your heart is so little 
at home in spiritual matters that it is hard to talk of them ? Out 
of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, Luke vi. 45. 

How easy it is to slide from all this into coldness, and jealousy, 
and suspicion, and harsh remarks, and fault-finding, and evil- 
speaking. But I will pursue this subject no farther. Each of 
you know, in your own experience, how much of what is said is 
applicable to yourself. Do not fancy that I am finding fault 



DEPARTING FROM GOD. 



403 



with you, as though not in the same condemnation. If what I 
have said meets a response in your hearts, it is in great measure 
because repeated and painful experience has taught me its truth 
— and while thus confessing my own remissnesses, unfaithful- 
ness, and sin, I beseech you, my Christian friends, to deal faith- 
fully with }^our own selves. Where are you now? Have you 
not departed very far from your Father's house? and while 
maintaining the outward form, have you not in too great measure 
lost the true spirit of the Christian profession ? Be zealous, there- 
fore, and repent, Eev. iii. 19. 

I have thus endeavored to describe some of the steps by which 
the Christian departs from God ; but all that has been said, gives 
a very faint idea of the ingratitude of such conduct, or its vile- 
ness in the sight of God, to say nothing of the evil it inflicts on 
your own soul. If you be a true Christian, the only evidence of 
it that you can have while in this state will be, a deep and abid- 
ing dissatisfaction with yourself, and desire to return. If you 
have fallen into the state described, and yet are satisfied there- 
with, and feel no anxiety to have it altered, then I must say unto 
you, you have no reason to think yourself a Christian. You have 
no reason to suppose you ever knew the grace of God. What ! 
a Christian, and yet satisfied to live thus ? a Christian, so cold, so 
formal, so far away, and yet at ease ! I pray God you be not de- 
ceiving yourself with a mere name to live. How can the Chris- 
tian be at ease in such circumstances ? A voice is telling him 
that all is not right, that he is out of the way. Conscience re- 
proaches him, he seeks to pacify it, promises amendment, par- 
tially reforms — but it too often happens that this is done with but 
half an heart, and no wonder if he fails in returning, and goes 
mourning and complaining, neither heartily enjoying the pleas- 
ures of sin, nor yet tasting the love of God. How long halt ye be- 
tween two opinions t You try to satisfy yourselves with some out- 
ward services, some compensation, as it were, for the devotion of 
the heart. You are diligent in business, in study, in public meet- 
ings, but the heart is wandering, and you are unhappy, and will 
be so, until you can fully adopt the Psalmist's prayer — Unite my 
heart to fear thy name, Ps. lxxxvi. 11. 

If the Christian does not speedily turn to God with his whole 
heart, the result of all will be, that there will be a famine in the 
land. The manna once gathered will not always keep, the sweet- 
ness of past experience will not remain, if not renewed by fresh 



404 



DEPARTING- FROM GOD. 



supplies. Study, business, outward forms and services, and even 
Christian ordinances will lose their charms, and cease to satisfy 
you, because God's blessing is not on them, they become husks, 
they are in themselves nothing but husks, and those that are with- 
out will enjoy them as much as you, if the Spirit of Christ gives 
you not vitality and strength to appreciate their sweetness. I 
know of few conditions so distressing as that of the Christian who 
has left God, and yet cannot find pleasure in the world. Of all 
men he is most miserable. He has left God, and God has left 
him. He dares not rest in the world, he cannot serve God and 
mammon, he has no heart to pray or read, and yet no satisfaction 
in anything else. I will not presume to say how much of God's 
displeasure you may be left to feel, but if God dealt with you as 
you deserve, where would you be ? You have committed two evils ; 
you have forsaken the founta in of living waters, and hewn out to your- 
selves cisterns, broken cisterns, which can hold no ivater, Jer. ii. 13. 

Having dwelt so much at length on these topics, I can say but 
little on what remains, and shall merely suggest a few thoughts 
for your consideration. 

It may be, notwithstanding your wanderings, that God will be 
gracious, and will give his good Spirit to reclaim you. If so, the 
Christian will reflect on his ways, how he has grieved the Spirit, 
ungratefully requited the care of God, and the grace of Christ. 
He will consider his own helpless condition and starved state, and 
adopting the words of the prodigal, he will be deeply affected 
with penitence, self-loathing, and remorse, and he will have need 
for it all. Thus he comes to himself In all this wandering and 
backsliding you have been as far removed as possible from all re- 
semblance to your spiritual nature, but penitence and prayer are 
the Christian's vital breath. Return therefore unto God. Take 
with you words. Come unto the Father you have so foolishly and 
deeply grieved. Come with the spirit of a child, casting yourself 
unreservedly on his mercy, acknowledging your sins, and resolv- 
ing by his grace assisting, no more to wander from him. If he 
receives you, it will be well. If he does not, you can but die — 
but our Saviour says, He will in no wise cast you out. 

Ningpo, September 6, 1846, 



SERMON XLV. 



RETURNING TO GOD. 

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his 
father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed 
him. — Luke xv. 20. 

Having, in a former discourse, spoken at some length of the 
steps by which a true child of God may, and often does, depart, 
and backslide from the service of his Heavenly Father, I propose 
now to describe the road by which he returns to that service, 
the subject of the former discourse was one comparatively easy to 
set before you, for it was familiar to you all, by reason of repeated 
experience in that backward course ; but it is not easy to set the 
subject of the present discourse so fully before you. There are 
few Christians who have not lost the fervor of their first love. 
There are few who do not readily comprehend the truth of the 
prophetic declaration, Your own luickedness shall correct you, and 
your backslidings shall reprove you, Jer. ii. 19, and therefore, when 
such a subject is preached about, every word that is said finds a 
ready response in their hearts. But there are many Christians, 
who, after backsliding, do not fully return to the Lord their God. 
There are many who go on halting in their course, and the de- 
scription of Gideon's army after their victory over Midian, faint, 
yet pursuing, might be applied to many a child of God, of whom 
it ought to be said, He runs, and is not iveary, walks, and is not 
faint, Is. xl. 31. How can such persons describe aright, or fully 
comprehend the description of the hearty return, and full recon- 
ciliation of the child of many wanderings and sins, and the 
Father above, ever merciful and gracious ? 

There are some Christians, who, in the inexperience of their 
first religious course, and when they first feel the difficulties of 
keeping near to God, suffer themselves to say, " It would be in 
some respects well, if we did for a time backslide. We should 
then know how evil a thing it is, and being fully sensible of this, 



406 



RETURNING TO GOD. 



and terrified by it, we should thereby be kept from future falls, 
and made more careful and diligent in our after course." I know 
not how common such an imagination may be, but it is more 
common than many suppose, and is one of the most dangerous 
delusions with which Satan tempts the believer. I warn you 
against it, in all its forms. If you give way to it, you will find 
its end to be like that of Eve, when plucking the forbidden fruit. 
You shall thus indeed know both good and evil. You shall 
know, by your brief experience, the good of keeping close to 
Christ, and by your bitter sorrows and repentance, the evil of 
departing from him. You shall get a wound and dishonor not 
soon wiped away. You will probably go halting for many a 
long day, and over many a rough and painful road. You may 
not see the light of God's countenance again, so soon as you 
fondly suppose. He is not bound to be gracious unto you, and 
the only hope you can have is in his mercy, his free favor. That 
mercy, that favor is exceedingly great, but has it never occurred 
to you, my fellow-Christian, that it may be exercised in the way 
of severe chastisements for sin, which, while they punish, also 
cure ? There are some diseases brought on by over-indulgence 
and neglect of caution, which are cured only by long mortifica 
tion of the body and bitter drugs, and in which the wise and kind 
physician finds it necessary to confine his patient to a diet on 
which a healthy man would almost starve. It may be so with 
you, when you backslide. Had you continued walking with 
God, he would have fed you with the finest of the wheat: and with 
honey out of the rock would he have satisfied you, Ps. lxxxi. 16, but 
now you have departed from him, and by so doing inflicted such 
an injury on your spiritual life, that his mercy finds no other way 
of healing you, except by feeding you with the bread of adversity, 
and the water of affliction, Is. xxx. 20. He may feed you with the 
bread of tears, and give you tears to drink in great measure, Ps. lxxx. 
5, and all this, not simply in punishment, but in mercy. Beware 
then of backsliding ; you know not where it will end, or in what 
ways you may be restored from it. He may see it necessary to 
visit you with sore trials — to cause you to lie long amidst dis- 
tressing doubts of his favor, and fears of his wrath, and deep self- 
reproaches. It was well said by Doddridge, " The sorrows of the 
convinced sinner when first he comes to God, are not to be com- 
pared with those of the backslider when he returns from his wan- 
derings." 



EETUKNING- TO GOD. 



407 



You remember the story of Christian, who fell asleep in the 
arbor, on his way up the hill Difficulty. There he lost his evi- 
dence of being a child of God ; and after coming nearly to the 
Palace Beautiful, he was obliged to go back and seek it. " But 
all the way he went back who can sufficiently describe the sor- 
row of Christian's heart ? Sometimes he sighed ; sometimes he 
wept, and oftentimes he chid himself for being so foolish as to fall 
asleep in that place, which was erected only for a little refresh- 
ment in his weariness." You remember his self-accusations. 
"How many steps have I taken in vain. Thus it happened to 
Israel. For their sin they were sent back again by the way of the 
Eed Sea ; and I am made to tread those steps with sorrow which 
I might have trod with delight, had it not been for this sinful sleep. 
How far might I have been on my way by this time ? I am 
made to tread those steps thrice over which I needed not to have 
trod but once: yea, now also I am like to be benighted, for .the 
day is almost spent. Oh that I had not slept !" You remember 
also, that after he recovered his evidence, he was unable with the 
utmost diligence to reach the Palace Beautiful before the sun 
went down. " This made him again recall the vanity of his 
sleeping to his mind, and to exclaim — Oh, thou sinful sleep ! 
how for thy sake am I like to be benighted in my journey ! I 
must walk without the sun, darkness must cover the path of my 
feet, and I must hear the noise of doleful creatures because of my 
sinful sleep I" 

Do not think that in these preliminary observations there is 
any departure from the subject of the discourse, as already an- 
nounced. It will be found, that generally, the course of the back- 
sliding Christian's return to God, commences in such thoughts as 
these. 

As already remarked, no one can say how long or how far 
the backsliding Christian may depart from Grod. Some go so far 
that they lose every external mark of being his, and his minis- 
ters and the officers of his church find it necessary to exclude 
them from the fellowship of his people. Such give great occa- 
sion to the enemies of religion to blaspheme, and though by the 
mercy of God they may be restored, yet it should be only after a 
public profession of repentance, and a satisfactory evidence of a 
hearty and thorough change of conduct. But the majority of 
those who fall backward do not go to this extreme length, and it 



408 



RETURNING TO GOD. 



is with the return of this class that we are now principally con- 
cerned. In regard to such as these I remark, 

1. If he be a Christian, he cannot be satisfied while in this 
backsliding state. You may hide your eyes, or forget for awhile, 
or seek to quiet conscience, but these can be only temporary ex- 
pedients. If you are a true child of God it is impossible for you 
to depart from him, and yet approve of the departure. You must 
see that something is wrong, and you cannot be satisfied while it 
is so. The Christian has a spiritual life within him which cannot 
be supported by the husks on which men of the world feed. 
God hath made you for himself. He has given you himself for 
the portion of your soul ; and though your eye may become so 
blind, and your heart so dull, that for awhile your employment, 
correspondence, studies, religious services, and friends, may too 
much engross you, yet these cannot fill your heart. You may 
attend to all these, and you will, so long as you do not enjoy God 
in them all, be sensible of an emptiness, an aching void, which 
nothing but He who is supremely good and real can fill. The 
sense of dissatisfaction, of emptiness, may be more or less painful 
in different persons, but I am persuaded that every true child of 
God feels it when he does not have fellowship with the Father 
and with his Son Jesus Christ. It sometimes is the occasion of 
leading such to seek more earnestly for satisfaction in other 
things. Hardly sensible that their inward longing arises from 
the natural desires of the spiritual life after him who is its source, 
they seek to satisfy it with other pursuits, and especially by in- 
creased attention to external duties. But all this will not satisfy 
you, and you ought to thank God that it is so. It is a mercy of 
which you are too little sensible, when you are kept from resting 
in such unsatisfying forms. 

2. This internal dissatisfaction leads the Christian to reflec- 
tion. "Why am I living on these husks? Is there nothing 
better than these to be had ? Am I a child of God and an heir 
of immortal life, and yet put off with things unsatisfying in their 
own nature, and that perish with the using ? Has my heavenly 
Father nothing better than these for the immortal souls of his 
children ? How many hired servants of my Father have bread 
enough, and to spare, while I perish with hunger ?" Such re- 
flections as these are most profitable, and they lead to further and 
deeper self-examination. 

3. By this self-examination the Christian is led to see his sin- 



RETURNING TO GOD. 



409 



fulness in its true light. As this is the most important step in 
every attempt to return to God, it is proper to speak of it partic- 
ularly. 

The inspired declaration respecting the heart, that it is de- 
ceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, Jer. xvii. 9, is one 
whose truth none feels so deeply as the advanced and confirmed 
Christian. This evil nature is not removed all at once. And one 
of the strongest and best proofs of your growth in grace is found 
in your deeper conviction and heartier sorrow for it. It was this 
natural tendencj^ to what is evil that has led you to backslide, 
and therefore the first step in return must consist in deep humil- 
iation for, and confession of it. Of this we have an instructive 
example in the case of David the King of Israel. With the his- 
tory of his melancholy fall you are doubtless all familiar. It was 
after he had become settled in his kingdom, and in such security 
and prosperity that he was able to employ a part of his forces in 
foreign wars. During this time of ease he fell into a state of back- 
sliding that resulted in open and dreadful sin, and so seared had 
his conscience become, that it would seem as if some weeks or 
months must have rolled away ere he became duly sensible of 
his state. A divinely commissioned messenger aroused him from 
this state of insensibility — a heavy judgment visited him at the 
time. Sorer trials were in store for him ; and he was forewarned 
that the sword should never depart from his house. His con- 
science was now thoroughly aroused, and in this state he penned 
the li. Psalm, which has ever been a model for the confessions of 
the returning; child of Grod. In this Psalm his confessions are not 
confined to the enumeration of his actual sins. He goes down to 
the root of the matter, to the fountain of original depravity, and 
with the deepest humility he confesses, Behold I was shapen in 
iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. And his prayer is, 
Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within 
me. Here, my Christian friends, is the root of the matter. If you 
feel that you have departed from Grod — if you desire to return to 
him, then commence your course with humiliation and confes- 
sion of sin, and in these exercises give the first place to that sin 
which dwelleth in you, and which causes that when you would 
do good, evil is present with you. 

And here, along with this confession of original sin, let there 
be a full and hearty confession and repentance of actual trans- 
gressions. Say with David, I acknowledge my transgressions, and 



410 



KETUKNTNGr TO GOD. 



my sin is ever before me. And again in another Psalm, I acknowl- 
edged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid ; I said, I 
will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the 
iniquity of my sin, Ps. xxxii. 5. In repentance and confession of 
sin, one point is of special importance. We must see that the 
chief vileness of sin consists in the fact, that it is against God. 
To offend a fellow-man is bad enough, but to sin against the holy 
Majesty of heaven, to requite with ingratitude the bounty of a 
Father like our God — surely no words can express this too strongty. 
Hence the burden of the prodigal son's confession, was, / have 
sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and in the enormity of 
David's sin against God, his offences against Uriah and Uriah's 
wife, could scarcely come into notice, Against thee, thee only have 
I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight. While it is true that the 
greatness of every sin is chiefly in its being against God, yet this 
seems more especially true of the sin of backsliding, a^pl depart- 
ing from him. Hence the strong language of the prophet Jere- 
miah. 

Be astonished, oh ye heavens at this, 

And be horribly afraid, 

Be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. 

For my people have committed two evils ; 

They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, 

And hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, 

That can hold no water, Jer. ii. 12, 13. 
It is no light sin to forsake God. Why should you forsake him, 
if he gives you all you need, and all he promised ? Surely you 
will not say that you leave him because he has failed or disap- 
pointed you in any point. Can the fountain of living waters run 
dry ? Can the spring of eternity fail ? Can the water of the river 
of life cease to satisfy the thirst of the spiritually living soul ? 
Impossible ! and yet your forsaking of God, implies all this neg- 
lect of himself, unbelief of his word, contempt of his promises, 
yea, and actually charging God with being false to his word — for 
if he were not false, why should you leave him? And yet you 
have left him, and sought for that sweetness elsewhere! And 
where ? Verily, in broken cisterns, and in failing streams, which 
at best are derived only from Him, and which too often are but 
the muddy pools and brackish ponds where those who never 
quaffed the water of everlasting life, are vainly striving to slake 
the fevered thirst of sin ! What is this but exalting the creature 



RETURNING- TO GOD. 



411 



above the Creator — the gift above the giver — and wherein does it 
differ from the folly and sin of the idolater, who says to the stock 
and the stone, Deliver me, for thou art my God, Is. xliv. 17. Re- 
bellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity 
and idolatry, 1 Sam. xv. 23. Nay, it is worse than this, the idol- 
ater is ignorant of his Lord's will, but you are not. The idolater 
has never heard of the death of Christ, but you are casting under 
foot, or behind your back, the blood of the covenant, and forget- 
ting him, who, as he loved you with an everlasting love, and 
laid down his life to save you, so he does not forget you now, 
when he is on his throne of glory in the heavens. Truly it was 
no exaggeration when the prophet apostrophized the heavens 
and the earth, for the earth where our Saviour suffered, and the 
heavens where he reigns, must be equally astonished at the treat- 
ment he receives from those whom he died to redeem. Hence, 
learn too, how wonderfully great his salvation must be, for it 
covers even the guilt of those who treat him with such ingrati- 
tude as this. 

Happiness in one form or other, is the object of every man's 
search, and even the backslider in heart and in life, seeks it in 
his backsliding. But you cannot find it in such broken cisterns. 
Though you made your researches as extensive and systematic 
as those of Solomon, yet like him must you say at last, Vanity of 
vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit, Bcc. i. 2, and to this 
point, sooner or later, must every backslider come. When it 
comes to this, then